Lung cancer is the most prevalent on the entire planet. Every year 900,000 new cases are diagnosed and only 5% of patients survive five years after receiving the diagnosis. To a large extent, this poor prognosis is due to the fact that there are no specific targeted treatments because no therapeutic targets have been discovered, which is why the tumor frequently evolves and ends up generating metastases, which drastically reduce the chances of survival.
In this sense, María de la Fuente, at the head of the Nano-Oncology and Translational Therapeutics group, of the Santiago de Compostela Health Research Institute, investigates metastatic lung tumors and, together with researchers from the Translational Medical Oncology group, ONCOMET, of the same institution has discovered a therapeutic target that could open the door to new drugs.
“We investigated how the cells of the primary tumor differed from those that spread throughout the body and we discovered a protein that is involved in the formation of metastases,” explains de la Fuente. As they discovered, the cells that metastasize have a greater amount of this protein, so “an interesting strategy is to develop drugs against this molecular target”, which also seems to be relevant in other types of tumors.
The drug will treat metastasis, not prevent it “
Now the researchers are working on developing a molecule, a monoclonal antibody, targeting that protein. They have already done some tests on cell lines and will now continue to refine it in cell models and cultures, for when it is ready, to carry out a first test in animals.
“The drug will treat metastasis, it will not prevent it,” de la Fuente clarifies. “This new target will also allow us to select those patients likely to respond to the targeted therapy that we want to develop,” adds this researcher. One more step towards personalized medicine.
** Research project promoted by the ‘la Caixa’ Foundation, an entity that supports Big Vang