Elisa Matas and Alexandra Cantero. / salvador salas

New research projects to be carried out in Malaga with 437,000 euros of funding from major Spanish cancer association

Dr Elisa Matas and Dr Alexandra Cantero are leading the investigation into the effects of immunotherapy on patients with tumours of the lung and bladder

ÁNGEL ESCALERA MALAGA.

Research is essential in the fight against cancer and two new projects are to be carried out in Malaga, at the Clínico Virgen de la Victoria and Regional hospitals. Led by Dr Elisa Matas and Dr Alexandra Cantero, the research has received 437,000 euros of funding from the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) to try to achieve greater effectiveness in immunotherapy for bladder and lung tumours.

Elisa Matas, a researcher at the Biomedicine Research Institute of Malaga and Nanomedicine Platform and at Malaga university, is working on a new strategy for treating aggressive tumours which have begun to invade the muscle layer of the bladder, as in these cases the treatment options are drastically reduced.

At present, the usual treatment is surgery and chemotherapy, and the percentage of positive results from immunotherapy is very low (around 20%) and the benefits are not longlasting.

“We are looking for a way to boost the immune system so patients respond better to this type of therapy,” Dr Matas told SUR.

Liquid biopsy

The other research project, led by Dr Alexandra Cantero, will investigate which patients with lung cancer will benefit from immunotherapy and who will not and will be based on liquid biopsy, a technique developed only a few years ago which is now being used in all hospitals and which provides information about a solid tumour from a sample of liquids, in this case blood.

It will analyse a group of genes from the sample which are related to the development of a tumour. “My project will use artificial intelligence to see what role the variables in these genes play, especially in the response to immunotherapy as a treatment for lung cancer. I want to be able to find out which patients it will suit and which it won’t, before the treatment begins,” she explained.

The two research projects will last for three years or possibly be extended for a fourth year, depending on progress.