The CRIS cancer foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to promoting and developing research to end cancer for more than 10 years. It currently funds 81 areas of research on adult and pediatric cancer and its four CRIS research programs: the CRIS Excellence Program, the CRIS Clinical Talent Program, the CRIS Postdoc Talent Program, and the CRIS Out-Back Program, which provide support for pioneering research projects.
This year, one of the two winning projects in the category of the CRIS Excellence Program, which aims to promote the development of clinical and translational programs with the potential to have a real impact on the treatment of patients, is the one led by Aleix Prat, an oncologist at Hospital Clínic and head of the IDIBAPS group Translational genomics and targeted therapies in solid tumors.
Prat and his team focus on the study of breast cancer. Traditionally, these tumors are classified as hormone receptor-positive if they express receptors for estrogen, progesterone or both hormones, HER2-positive if this receptor is found in the cell membranes, or triple-negative if they express none of the aforementioned molecules. This classification, however, does not always reflect the patients’ reality. In fact, many cases of hormone receptor-positive tumors behave like HER2-positive tumors and do not respond to treatment.
The project awarded by CRIS with €1,250,000 will spend 5 years studying these tumors, which are also known as HER2-enriched tumors. Specifically, it will study why they do not respond to conventional drugs, the role of immunotherapy in these cases, and anti-HER2 treatments, and will design strategies for detecting and improving the diagnosis of this type of cancer. The results of the research will be translated into clinical trials and have the potential to change the approach to hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.