A study by IDIBELL, ICO and IGTP puts precision medicine at the service of nerve tumors

- Research
  • Scientists have managed to expand their precision medicine platform, allowing a detailed study of tumors of the nervous system.
  • This improvement opens the door to more personalised therapeutic strategies and has been reflected in an article recently published in the journal Molecular Oncology.

A research team, led by Dr. Conxi Lázaro, head of the Hereditary cancer group at IDIBELL and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), and Dr. Eduard Serra, leader of the Hereditary Cancer group at Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP), has published in the journal Molecular Oncology the expansion of a precision medicine platform to analyse and improve treatments for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs). These tumors are known to be aggressive and have a low survival rate, especially in patients with a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), an inherited disease that affects approximately 1 in 3,000 people. They represent between 3 and 10% of all soft tissue tumors or sarcomas in the general population, while they have a prevalence ranging between 8 and 15% in patients with NF1.

Now, researchers have been able to implant fragments of new MPNSTs from patients into mice, and have isolated cell lines from the same tumors, thus providing a laboratory environment to study these tumours. Once these biological replicas that maintain the characteristics of the original tumours were created, scientists carried out an exhaustive characterisation of their genome, epigenome and histology. This approach allows researchers to better understand the behaviour of tumours and how they might respond to treatments. Edgar Creus-Bachiller, doctoral researcher at IDIBELL, and Dr. Juana Fernandez, head of Mouse Lab at IDIBELL, have led the experimental work and subsequent analysis.

In fact, the results have even allowed a more precise classification of tumours, identifying that some previously considered MPNST could correspond to other tumor entities. This discovery, combined with the possibility of testing drugs to evaluate their effectiveness, will open the door to more personalised and beneficial therapeutic strategies.

This work has been carried out in collaboration with the researcher Dr. Alberto Villanueva from IDIBELL and the ICO. In addition, Fernández is part of the central core of the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee, the body responsible for ensuring compliance with the 3Rs in all animal experimentation models. This principle governs animal experimentation with the goal of replacing the use of animals whenever possible, minimising the number of animals used and refining procedures to minimize pain to laboratory animals.


Creus-Bachiller E, Fernández-Rodríguez J, Magallón-Lorenz M, Ortega-Bertran S, Navas-Rutete S, Romagosa C, Silva TM, Pané M, Estival A, Perez Sidelnikova D, Morell M, Mazuelas H, Carrió M, Lausová T, Reuss D, Gel B, Villanueva A, Serra E, Lázaro C. Expanding a precision medicine platform for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: New patient-derived orthotopic xenografts, cell lines and tumor entities. Mol Oncol. 2023 Oct 5. DOI: 10.1002/1878-0261.13534.