Over the next four years, researchers engaged in the project “Identification and development of novel colorectal cancer biomarkers via state-of-the-art liquid biopsy approaches (ColoMARK)” will attempt to identify and develop new biomarkers of colorectal cancer using state-of-the-art liquid biopsy techniques. Liquid biopsies are non-invasive analytical tests conducted on samples of non-solid tissue, such as blood. Meritxell Gironella, a researcher in the IDIBAPS Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Oncology group, whose leader is Antoni Castells, will direct the contribution of the Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS to the project, which is coordinated by the researcher Ceres Fernández of the Santiago de Compostela Health Research Institute. Nine institutions from Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain are taking part in the project.
“ColoMARK belongs to a European doctoral network of excellence that will implement ten innovative research projects through the cooperation of nine groups with experience in different scientific areas,” says the researcher. “Moreover, thanks to the funds received – nearly 2.7 million euros – the project will provide innovative, transversal training to ten pre-doctoral researchers from different countries. The goal is to create a network of multidisciplinary researchers in the growing research field of liquid biology and colon cancer biomarkers with a view to providing young researchers with the best tools, enabling them to lead research in this field in the near future”.
Besides the provision of training activities, consortium members will also contribute to achieving the scientific goals of the project. More specifically, they will seek to identify and validate, in different cohorts, new biomarkers for risk prediction, early detection and management of colon cancer, using different technological approaches and different biological fluids. They will also develop and optimize protocols and technologies aimed at guaranteeing reproducibility. In this area, Meritxell Gironella and her team will provide expertise in the study of non-coding RNAs. According to the IDIBAPS researcher, “identifying new biomarkers to improve those currently available in the field of colon cancer is key to reducing the incidence of one of the most common cancers and improving management and care of patients”. Finally, the work plan also includes actions to disseminate the project results, both inside and outside the world of research, in order to maximize the scientific, social and economic impact of the ColoMARK project.
The researchers will attend the project kick-off meeting in Santiago de Compostela on 3 November 2022.