VHIO and the Weizmann Institute of Science: stimulating must-have conversation on Cellular Communication in Translational Research

• VHIO and the Weizmann Institute of Science provide a platform to exchange and debate latest research aimed at combating cancer

• This joint undertaking is expected to spur additional VHIO-WIS collaboration based on the respective strengths and synergies of the two institutions

Barcelona, 22 January 2015 – Commencing today, the co-organized Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) conference on Cell Communication in Translational Research: Bringing basic research into the clinic, will run across one and a half days, incorporating an outstanding panel of speakers that have been specially selected from among WIS and VHIO Faculty as well as other leading research institutes from Spain.

Featuring two prestigious Keynote Lectures to be delivered by Yossi Yarden, Principal Investigator, Department of Biological Regulation at the WIS, and Josep Tabernero, Director and Head of Clinical Research at VHIO, these two internationally acclaimed experts will present on It takes two to tango: HER2 and EGFR in cancer progression and therapy, and, Dissecting Colorectal Cancer in Multiple Targetable Subtypes, respectively.

Devised and directed by the conference Co-Chairs, Joaquín Arribas, Director of Preclinical Research at VHIO, and Irit Sagi, Principal Investigator, Department of Biological Regulation, and Dean of the Fienberg Graduate School at WIS, the scientific program has been engineered to report on pioneering research into cancer molecular mechanisms and dedicated efforts towards precision cancer science and medicine.

Cellular Communication: the essence of life

Cellular communication is essential for the development and activity of each cell. Although we are only just beginning to understand these complex mechanisms, we do know that cellular communication can be altered, giving rise to various diseases. It can also lead to the uncontrolled growth of cells, often giving rise to cancer. “Cancer can occur in many ways, but it always requires multiple signaling errors, and is often triggered when a cell acquires the ability to grow and divide — even in the absence of a signal. Such unregulated growth normally stimulates a self-destruction signal, but, when a cell also loses the capacity to respond to cell-death signals, cell division spins out of control and can lead to tumor formation”, explains Joaquín Arribas.

This cell communication also later determines the growth of blood vessels within the tumor, which allows the cells to furnish their own blood supply and to grow even more. Additional signals allow the cancer to spread to other parts of the body. Cellular communication is therefore critical in the development and progression of cancer.

“We must collectively strive to better understand cellular communication systems. In view of their capacity to both intercept signals and inhibit tumor growth, they represent potential avenues for novel therapeutic intervention. This joint VHIO-WIS meeting will provide a highly interactive platform through which to debate and exchange current insights into what we currently know about the breakdown of cell communication, the consequential cancer growth and spread, and promising new therapeutic approaches against it ”
 concludes Irit Sagi.

VHIO-WIS Collaboration: multidisciplinary partnership and promise

VHIO´s Growth Factors Group, led by Joaquín Arribas, recently initiated a research project between the two leading institutions, marking an exciting beginning of what it is hoped to be just the start in terms of future collaboration.

Focusing on pancreatic cancer, this VHIO-WIS scientific undertaking also involves the participation of VHIO´s Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Tumors Group, headed by Josep Tabernero, VHIO´s Director.

“Pancreatic cancer is one of the most invasive of all and often has a poor prognosis. At VHIO we are working with mouse avatars which act as models for the disease in patients. We are testing different therapeutic strategies to improve the effectiveness of current treatments by including inhibitors of various signaling routes”, indicates Joaquín. The inhibition of signaling routes triggered by KRAS is particularly critical since around 90% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas contain tumor cells with mutations activated in this gene.

Just one of the important gains from teaming with the Weizmann Institute of Science, thanks to the expertise, participation and vision of Irit Sagi, is the factoring in of cell biophysics and cancer. Recent advances in highly sophisticated electron microscopy greatly facilitate a better understanding regarding how cells modify the tumor environment.


For the full list of Speakers and their respective talk titles please visit:

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