MIT-Spain grant for IBEC project, Bioengineering Against Cancer

For the first round in 2017, the awarded projects are all in the fields of health, energy or the global economy, and went to researchers at institutions all over the country, including CSIC in Madrid and Valencia and the University of Alicante, and other Barcelona-based centres such as the Universidad Ramon Llull, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, ICMAB-CSIC and the UPC.

IBEC’s project, Bioengineering Against Cancer, will aim to shed light on the molecular basis of cancer. It will harness mechanobiology – specifically the expertise of the IBEC group of Xavier Trepat and MIT-based ISC member Roger Kamm – to understand and measure mechanical tumor properties to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival. Cancer biologists are realizing that biochemical signaling pathways on their own are not sufficient to understand cancer progression. Not only that, but better approaches for drug discovery and testing are needed, as the conventional 2D culture conditions that are currently used are a poor reflection of real patient physiology.

By combining molecular biology and advanced biophysical techniques, Bioengineering Against Cancer will first unravel the molecular mechanisms by which cells detect and respond to tissue stiffness. Secondly, it will determine how mechanical factors govern cancer invasion. Thirdly, it will analyze patient samples and data to shed light on how mechanical factors, cancer diagnosis, and treatments interfere or interact with each other. This will lead to the discovery of new biomarkers and develop targeted drug delivery strategies with maximum efficiency.