The Spanish periodical La Vanguardia has today announced the winner, as voted by its readers, of this year´s Vanguardia de la Ciencia annual prize that recognizes just some of the most pioneering science published from institutions of excellence throughout Spain. This non-monetary recognition, launched in 2011, was especially created to give more visibility to research of excellence carried out nationwide.
VHIO´s Joan Seoane, Director of Translational Research, ICREA Professor, and Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), has been selected out of the eight finalists as the 2016 recipient for research proposing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as liquid biopsy for the early diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic management and tracking of brain cancer. This pioneering study was published last November in the journal Nature Communications*.
The reported novel approach of using liquid biopsy in CSF, obtained by lumbar puncture, could not only promise a more precise treatment selection for each individual patient, but also help us to be steps ahead of cancers next move. Compared to traditional procedures used to extract brain tissue samples, it is also a much less invasive technique, representing a significant forward step towards better detecting cancer mutations, tracking the evolution of disease, as well as predicting response to therapy.
Financed in part by a grant from the Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC), this research also represents a truly multidisciplinary effort – reflecting the necessity of combining expertise across disciplines to drive discovery as quickly as possible in the collective quest to more precisely conquer cancer.
Importantly, Joan and his group – including first-authors Leticia de Mattos-Arruda and Regina Mayor, were able to establish the proof of concept of this approach as well as promising new direction in the study of brain cancer and metastases, thanks to the essential work and dedication of other researchers at VHIO – namely, co-authors Javier Cortés, Josep Tabernero, Enriqueta Felip, Jordi Rodón, Joan Carles and Ana Vivancos.
As a truly mulitidisciplinary undertaking, the study also inculded the collaboration of neurosurgeons, pathologists, investigators and bioinformaticians across the Vall d´Hebron University Hospital (HUVH) Campus: Juan Sahuquillo and Francisco Martínez-Ricarte (neurosurgery HUVH), Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Elena Martínez-Saez, Vicente Peg (pathology HUVH) – investigators at the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR), and Xavier de la Cruz (bioinformatics, VHIR). Colleagues from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, also participated in these research efforts.
On behalf of all at VHIO, we take this opportunity to congratulate Joan and his team, VHIO´s expert researchers and physician-scientists involved in the study, as well as the participation of all aforementioned co-collaborators and contributors. Joan, in the company of the two other finalists to have secured the most votes, will present their respective studies during a special award ceremony to be celebrated in Barcelona on Thursday 28 April at 19:00h, hosted at Gaudí´s spectacular Casa Milà, popularly known as ‘La Pedrera´.
* De Mattos-Arruda, L. et al. Cerebrospinal fluid-derived circulating tumour DNA better represents the genomic alterations of brain tumours than plasma. Nat. Commun. 6:8839 doi: 10.1038/ncomms9839 (2015).