Celebrated last week and returning to the stunning Oval Room of Catalonia´s National Museum of Art (MNAC), Fero´s community joined together for the Foundation´s annual fundraising gala dinner and award ceremony. In the company of a record breaking number of guests this year – totaling at over 900 individuals committed to supporting research that drives scientific discovery against cancer, master of ceremonies, Piru Cantarell, Director of Fero, kicked off the evening´s proceedings with a video Through the eyes of a donor which captured a guided visit to VHIO´s facilities and a meet and greet with just some of its Principal Investigators.
Themed Ending cancer begins with research to stress the importance and necessary connectivity of translational, bench-bedside (and back) research, but also the en force nature of Fero´s devoted community and dedicated supporters, this short film illustrated just how far research has advanced towards the development of more precise and effective anti-cancer therapies, and signposted the ´where to next´ in our collective quest to improve outcomes for cancer patients. VHIO´s PIs also joined Fero´s fundraiser to talk, discuss with, and thank the many treasured believers and supporters of research at VHIO who have all been instrumental in enabling our Institute to continue to significantly contribute to cancer research of international excellence and in so doing, accelerate progress towards combatting cancer.
José Baselga, creator and President of Fero, who was also joined by Catalonia´s Minister of Health, Antoni Comín, then delivered a truly inspiring talk focused on the essential and continued belief and backing of research in oncology, as well as the necessity of coming together to beat cancer - suitably tagged: Fero´s community giving to research towards cure. Reflective of such commitment, this year´s twelfth annual edition awarded two Fero Fellowships. The first, sponsored by the Ramón Areces Foundation, was awarded to María Abad, Principal Investigator of VHIO´s Cellular Plasticity and Cancer Group. Totaling at 70.000 EUR, this Fero grant will fuel essential research against pancreatic cancer to better understand the underlying biology of these tumors and identify novel therapeutic targets aimed at improving outcomes and survival of patients.
More specifically, the project will aim at identifying novel micropeptides involved in cancer stemness and its mutation profile in pancreatic cancer, as well as secreted micropeptides involved in tumor-stroma communication by proteomics. Using patient-derived samples, her group will seek to mechanistically characterize micropeptide candidates in vitro and in vivo, and establish novel prognostic signatures and stratification tools based on these findings.
“The ´microproteome´ is an emerging field that may change current paradigms from the molecular biology of cancer to the clinical setting. The consequent identification and characterization of novel micropeptides will be key to advancing insights into pancreatic cancer physiopathology and better understand the limited efficacy of current therapies. Given that this orphan disease is associated with poor prognosis since most patients are diagnosed at late stage, the search for new biomarkers for early detection and patient stratification matched to more precise therapies, is paramount”, observes María Abad.
“We aim to incorporate IncRNAs-coded micropeptides into the clinic as novel tumor biomarkers and possible targets for cancer therapy. Our research could ultimately have a huge impact within the field and could even change the direction of therapeutic interventions in the long term. I would like to gratefully thank Fero, this year´s Selection Committee headed by Andrés Cervantes, and the generosity of the Ramón Areces Foundation for believing in and supporting our efforts”, she concludes.
The second award of the evening, also amounting to 70.000 EUR, was sponsored by Sol Daurella, Vice President of Fero. Presented to Clara Bueno of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Foundation, Barcelona, this Fellowship will fund important research focused on immunotherapy against the most common type of childhood leukemia: Acute lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukemia (ALL).