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Understanding drug resistance in metastatic colorectal cancer

  • Researcher: Professor Eduard Batlle
  • Institution: Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Barcelona, Spain
  • Award Amount: £218,700 for 3 years from 1st February 2019
  • Cancer Type: colon cancer
Understanding drug resistance in metastatic colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide with over 1.8 million new cases diagnosed each year. Although many people are now able to survive colorectal cancer, thanks to better diagnosis and treatment, there are still close to one million deaths globally. The majority of these deaths result from the cancer spreading to other organs in the body, a process called metastasis.

Professor Eduard Batlle and his team at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona, Spain, have recently designed a genetically engineered mouse model, which captures the key molecular hallmarks of metastatic colorectal cancer. Studies using this mouse model have revealed that by blocking a particular communication network in these metastatic cancers they are able to turn the immune system against the cancer cells. However, many of the mice developed resistance to this type of treatment as the cancers became metastatic.

Professor Batlle’s project aims to pick apart the molecular mechanism that drives this resistance as the disease progresses to a metastatic stage. It’s hoped that by understanding why some tumours are resistant to treatment they will be able to develop novel strategies to treat metastatic colorectal cancer.

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