Professor Eduard Batlle aims to find out how colon cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is able to avoid the effects of a new treatment strategy developed by his lab.
Eduard is Research Professor and Programme Coordinator of the Oncology Programme at IRB Barcelona. His expertise in the genetic and molecular mechanisms that drive colorectal cancer have led his team to make key advances in our understanding cancer metastasis.
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.