Award-winning project to improve therapies against lymphomas

Researcher Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos, from the Genetic Dynamics of Cancer Cells group, was one of the six winners of the Gilead GENESE Program in the area of Science. The project, entitled "IMUNOLINF: The PSGL1 protein as a novel immunotherapeutic target against lymphomas", aims to "increase the anti-tumor immune response and at the same time block the spread of lymphoma cells".

Immunotherapy suppresses the immune system's control points, such as the PD-1 protein, and has revolutionized the treatment of some types of cancer, however, explains Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos, with the exception of refractory Hodgkin's lymphomas, this type of approach has not been a major success for most lymphomas. "In this project", the investigator says, "we want to see whether the suppression of another immune response inhibitory protein, PSGL-1, results in a higher reactivity of immune cells (T lymphocytes) to lymphomas. As the presence of PSGL-1 protein in lymphoma cells may play a role in the progression of the disease, we aim to verify whether suppression of this protein may increase the immune response and halt the spread of cancer cells".

For Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos, who received 36,400 euros for two years to develop this research project, being one of the winners of the Gilead Program GÉNESE in the Science area means "the recognition of the relevance of a scientific idea that, when investigated, may pave the way for a new therapeutic target against lymphomas. Without the funding it’s received, it would not be possible to carry out this project".

The selection of the finalists, based on 32 applications, was the responsibility of two independent evaluation commissions, which selected six scientific projects and four community initiatives, for their potential contribution to optimizing clinical practice, improving quality of life and health outcomes.

The Gilead GENESE Program was created in 2013 with the ambition of encouraging research, production and sharing of scientific knowledge at national level, and of enabling initiatives that lead to the implementation of good practices in patient follow-up.