Press release

A step forward in the treatment against pancreatic cancer
Leitat Biomed division team with director Francesc Mitjans (on the right) - © PCB
A team of scientists from the BioMed Division at Leitat –based in the Parc Científic de Barcelona– and the University of Barcelona have shown the effectiveness of a new therapy for the treatment of cancer in preclinical trials. The new strategy is based on the action of a monoclonal antibody that is targeted against protein S100A4, a key factor in tumor development.
The work carried out by this team of scientists in recent years has revealed that the interference of communication between the tumor and its environment is essential for its growth and metastasis. Now, the article shows, using different models, that the elimination of this factor decreases tumor growth and limits the growth of new blood vessels and, consequently, the delivery of nutrients to the tumor.

Specifically, the therapeutic approach described in the publication shows how the antibody blocks the migration of endothelial cells, decreasing tumor growth and limiting the formation of new blood vessels. The three processes are essential for neoplastic development. The triple action exerted by the antibody makes it a new unique biological therapy and a candidate for clinical development.

The development of monoclonal antibody has been transferred to the biotechnology company Lykera Biomed, a start-up created by LEITAT following their research on pancreatic cancer. Lykera wants to close agreements with other research centers in order to reach clinical trials as soon as possible.

Francesc Mitjans, director of the Biomed Division of LEITAT is confident that "the strategy of blocking protein S100A4 in pancreatic cancer and other tumor types, based on the action of this antibody, can start regulatory phase of safety studies next year”.

The results of this work –published this September in the journal PLOS ONE (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072480)– will be presented at the 17th European Cancer Conference (ECCO), the most prestigious European forum specializing in oncology, which this year will take place in Amsterdam from September 27 to October 1

The project has received support from ACC1Ó (Agency for business competitiveness from the Generalitat de Catalunya) and the National Plan for Scientific Research. Research groups have the SGR2009-261-GRE and SGR2009-118 quality accreditations from the Generalitat.

Leitat is a technology institute, recognized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and member ot the TECNIO network of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which focuses its activity on research, development and industrial innovation (I + D +2 i) in the fields of biotechnology, advanced materials, industrial chemistry, renewable energy and new production processes. Its mission is to help companies and institutions adding technological value, both to the products and processes, with a clear willingness for adaptation in order to transform technological challenges into economic and social value.

Leitat´s Biomed Division is based at the Barcelona Science Park and it focuses its research projects on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Currently, its main objective is the generation of innovative anti-cancer drugs, including actual as targets the actual tumor cells, stromal cells, tumor angiogenesis and 'cancer stem cells'. Despite being a relatively new unit, it is composed of a team of professionals with over 15 years experience in the field of basic and applied cancer research to the pharmaceutical industry.

Some of the drugs previously generated and developed by the members of this team are currently in phase III, II and I cancer clinical trials.

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