Presented yesterday at a special award ceremony hosted by the Ramón Areces Foundation in  Madrid and presided by Ángeles Heras, Spanish Secretary of State for University Research, Development and Innovation, and President of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Florencio Lasaga, VHIO’s Joan Seoane, Director of Translational Research and ICREA Professor, was honored as recipient of one of its Annual National Awards, now in its XIX edition. These recognitions spur ‘home-grown’ science led by researchers of international excellence.

Commenting for VHIO Communications upon receiving this recognition, Joan Seoane said, “I am truly honored to receive this essential support from the Ramón Areces Foundation. This belief and backing of my research, will help my group to identify new immunotherapeutic targets in brain metastases occurring in patients with lung cancer and melanoma.”

He continued, “These terrible metastases represent the most common form of cancer cell spread in the brain occurring in patients suffering from lung and breast cancers, and melanoma. Our determined research efforts will aim to identify and validate new drug targets towards developing more effective treatment strategies.”

In the treatment of patients with metastatic non-microcytic lung cancers and melanoma, immune checkpoint inhibitors represent the ‘go to’ in systemic immunotherapy. Unfortunately however, not all patients respond to these novel immune-based therapies, with the tumor microenvironment as a crucial and determining factor.

“Interestingly, intracranial lesions respond differently to these inhibitors than extracranial ones. This could suggest that the microenvironment modulates response to therapy in these patients,” observed Joan.

More specifically, his team, in collaboration with Enriqueta Felip, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Thoracic Tumors & Head and Neck Cancer Group, and Eva Muñoz-Couselo, Medical Oncologist and Clinical Investigator of our Breast Cancer & Melanoma Group (PI: Cristina Saura), will analyze these patients’ brain metastases and compare them with their respective primary tumors in order to advance insights into the factors governing clinical response to immune checkpoint blockade in individual patients.

“This approach will help us to identify novel therapeutic targets and establish the molecular mechanisms influencing the response of patients with brain metastases to these inhibitors,” he concluded.