Where Ideas grow

i3S researcher wins FAZ Ciência Award

The work of researcher Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos in the area of T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (LLA-T) was recently distinguished with the FAZ Science 2020 Award, an initiative of the AstraZeneca Foundation (FAZ) and the Portuguese Oncology Society (SPO). The main objective of this project, developed at i3S, is to find a target therapy, mediated by antibodies, that is more effective in attacking this disease.

Despite the growing knowledge about the molecular changes present in the development of Acute T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL), no therapy targeting these changes has yet reached clinical application. This is precisely the objective proposed by the i3S researcher. This project, explains Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos “focuses on a molecule, the TCR protein that, when stimulated, kills leukemic cells. We intend to use a therapy directed at TCR, and combine it with chemotherapy, to try to attack leukemia in two different ways, and thus be more effective in treatments”.

The prize, which translates into a scholarship for the amount of 35 thousand euros, represents for the researcher “a valuable support” that will allow the continuation of a project of his team that aims “to identify and exploit the vulnerabilities of the LLA-T”. The funding, adds Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos, “will make it possible to carry out pre-clinical trials with the aim of optimizing therapeutic protocols to eliminate leukemic cells and, thus, develop an effective immunotherapy against T-ALL”.

Rosário Trindade, President of the AstraZeneca Foundation, believes that “in the last few months we have been able, with all clarity, to see that the future of health depends on constant investment in scientific research. And it is from this purpose that the ‘FAZ Science Award’ emerged, supporting national projects capable of changing the paradigm of treatment and management of the disease, not only in Portugal, but in the rest of the world”.

As in the previous two editions, the applications were evaluated by an Evaluation Committee composed of five specialists in the field of Oncology.