International research to study the combination of local immunotherapy and radiotherapy for different types of tumors

International research to study the combination of local immunotherapy and radiotherapy for different types of tumors

This is one of the works granted an Accelerator Award by the AECC together with Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the Fondazione AIRC per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC)

An international research project led by Cima and the Clínica Universidad de Navarra is to study the combination of local immunotherapy and radiotherapy strategies for different types of tumors.

The work has received an Accelerator Award, an accolade which marks innovative translational research projects coordinated by multi-center teams. It is sponsored by the union of the Asociación Española contra el Cáncer (AECC) and its counterparts in the United Kingdom, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and in Italy, the Fondazione AIRC per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC).

“Our project analyses the effect of irradiating one of these lesions and combining an immunotherapy agent in animal-model carriers of different tumors. The objective is to determine which tumor awakens the most powerful immune response”, said Dr. Ignacio Melero, senior researcher at Cima, codirector of the Immunology Service at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra, who is the project coordinator.

As Dr. María Rodríguez Ruiz, a specialist in Radiation Oncology at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra and a researcher at Cima states, “This work covers all research stages, from study in experimental animal models to the concept test in patients who receive these treatments”.

Distance tumor treatment 

The innovation lies in local radiotherapy being applied to different types of tumors and, simultaneously, injections of an immunotherapy drug (BO112 molecule) developed by the Spanish company Bioncotech. “Thus, the objective is to induce a potent immune response which not only treats the irradiated tumor but also tumors at a distance”, Dr. Melero and Dr Rodríguez Ruiz stated.

In addition, analysis is anticipated of the samples of two clinical trials combining radiotherapy and immunotherapy with drugs that are, at present, at a clinical level of development. In these trials, patients with liver metastases deriving from solid tumors such as lung cancer, colorectal cancer and triple-negative breast cancer will participate, together with other patients suffering from (non-operable) squamous cell head and neck cancers.

This is a multi-center study led by Cima and the Clínica Universidad de Navarra with the participation of the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón in Madrid (Spain), the University of Manchester and University College London  (United Kingdom) and the Palermo University (UNIPA) and the Istituto Europeo di Oncologia in Milan (Italy).

Commitment to research 

Altogether, the AECC, CRUK and AIRC jointly spend €32.7M on financing seven cancer research projects through Accelerator Awards. Of this sum, the AECC contributes 6.2 million Euro, the largest grant in Spain at the present time.

The objective is to bolster research at an international level, as this facilitates access to a greater number of samples, gives access to shared knowledge and joint effort between the different research groups. 

Caption: Dr. Ignacio Melero & Dr. María Rodríguez Ruiz (4th and 11th from right) with the international Project partners. PHOTO: Pilar Martín