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Project on bone metastases distinguished with the Faz Ciência Prize

Researcher Joana Paredes, leader of the ‘Cancer Metastasis’ group, won the fifth edition of the Faz Ciência Award, awarded annually by the AstraZeneca Foundation to the best translational research project in oncology. The winning study was awarded 35 thousand euros and aims to discover the mechanism through which triple negative breast cancer metastasizes to the bone and then identify predictive biomarkers of these metastases to improve the prevention and treatment of women with metastatic breast cancer.

Selected from 41 applications, the largest number ever, the project led by Joana Paredes was developed together with the Instituto Português de Oncologia do Porto Francisco Gentil and the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas Carlos III (CNIO) in Madrid. This work, explains the researcher, “will focus on triple negative breast cancer and, more specifically, on a high percentage of women with this type of neoplasm – around 40 percent – who develop bone metastases, a condition that induces pain, fractures, spinal cord compression, as well as poor quality of life and poor prognosis’".

According to Joana Paredes, “it has been demonstrated that small extracellular vesicles secreted by tumor cells play a fundamental role as messengers in the establishment of pre-metastatic niches, including bone. The objective of this project is to study the impact of two proteins, which we have already identified as being secreted by triple negative breast cancer cells, on the reprogramming of bone tissue and its subsequent metastasis by neoplastic cells”.

Together with the team of researcher Hector Peinado from CNIO in Spain, the researcher tells us that “we will evaluate whether exposure to vesicles secreted by triple negative breast cancer cells, enriched for these proteins, have an impact on bones, carrying out experiments in vitro and in vivo”. At the same time, in collaboration with IPO-Porto, the expression of these proteins in primary tumors and bone metastases collected from patients will be evaluated.

If we take into account that metastases are responsible for more than 90% of cancer deaths, highlights Joana Paredes, “understanding the biology of therapy-resistant metastases is essential for the development of effective strategies to improve the survival of cancer patients”.

For Maria do Céu Machado, President of the FAZ Foundation, of Astrazeneca, this award “represents recognition of excellent clinical research and a stimulus and opportunity for researchers”. For the winning scientist, it recognizes the importance of the work developed by her group and means that “this work has the potential to be translated into clinical practice in the area of Oncology”.

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