Where Ideas Grow

Rui Osório de Castro Award rewards i3S project on pediatric sarcomas

Researchers Isabel Antunes and Catarina Gomes were recently awarded the Rui Osório de Castro/Millennium bcp Prize, worth 15 thousand euros. The scientists’ goal is to unravel the role of glycobiology in pediatric sarcomas and find new therapeutic strategies.

Sarcomas are a type of cancer that develops from mesenchymal cells and are much more prevalent in adolescents and children than in adults. According to the researchers of the “Glycobiology in Cancer” group, led by Celso Reis, “they are very heterogeneous tumors and particularly difficult to diagnose and treat, which is why it is so important to understand the biology of these tumors and decipher what are the most common alterations that set them apart”. Only in this way, underlines Isabel Antunes, “can we define new biomarkers and potential targeted therapies”.

The researcher explains that “one of the most described and widely studied molecular alterations in cancer is the aberrant expression of glycans (a type of sugar located on the surface of cells) precisely because it has implications for tumor development, progression and invasion”. With this project, explains Catarina Gomes, “we propose to evaluate the expression of aberrant glycans in the various subtypes of sarcomas, defining ‘glyco-signatures’’. The aim is to “characterize the pattern of glycosylation in the various subtypes of pediatric sarcomas to identify new changes with potential for clinically useful biomarkers”.

This award, which is now in its seventh edition, aims to develop innovative projects and initiatives in the field of pediatric oncology. According to the jury, the submissions were evaluated according to criteria of innovation, relevance and expected impact and, in addition to the first prize, two Honorable Mentions were also attributed to Ana Vieira, from the Instituto Superior Técnico, and Rui Reis, from the University of Minho.

The awards ceremony will take place at the 9th Pediatric Oncology Seminar, organized by the Rui Osório de Castro Foundation, and will take place on February 11th, at the Pediatric Hospital of the Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra.