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COLLABORATION AGREEMENT: FERO FOUNDATION GRANTS

FERO is a private foundation dedicated to promoting cancer research. The entity, founded in 2001 by Dr. Josep Baselga and currently chaired by Sol Daurella, is committed to translational research, a model based on the transmission of basic research results to the clinic, allowing patients to benefit more rapidly from scientific advances against cancer. The foundation promotes the Breast Cancer Centre of the Vall d'Hebron Hospital and the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), an institution internationally renowned in the field of oncology, among others.

For the past 10 years, the FERO Foundation has given its prestigious FERO Scholarships for translational oncology research every May and October to boost the careers of young researchers in order to support emerging researchers with disruptive ideas. The scholarships support two-year projects that provide new avenues for cancer treatment, diagnosis and knowledge. The Bosch Aymerich Foundation, in its commitment to cancer research, has signed a collaboration agreement with the FERO Foundation, which will allow an annual scholarship to be funded for three consecutive years.

This year, the awards went to four women. Dr. Antònia Tomas-Lloba, from the University of Murcia, who, with the contribution from the Bosch Aymerich Foundation, will receive the scholarship for her project “Circadian Rythm, Liver Cancer and beyond”. The research aims to gain a better understanding of the origin of liver cancer by investigating the molecular relationship between the interruption of circadian rhythms and the onset of liver cancer.

Dra. Antònia Tomas-Lloba
Photograph: Daniel Torralba

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"Liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world and is expected to increase by 62% by 2040. The causes are closely related to our rhythm of life and the constant rupture of natural cycles such as the circadian rhythms (a rupture declared a carcinogen by the WHO and IARC). The present world

situation highlights the importance of science in all its fields. Now more than ever, we are committed to science as an important base for our country’s development. Science and above all science,” says Dr. Antònia Tomas-Lloba.

Dr. Raquel Pérez, from the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), achieved the award with the support of the Ramón Areces Foundation for her project “unravelling the tumour immunophenotype with deep-learning radiogenomics”. She aims to develop an algorithm which, using artificial intelligence, correlates the image of the CT scan on the characteristics of the tumour with the patient's immune profile and the response to immunotherapy. All this, so that in the future the simple application of this algorithm might allow the treatment to be personalised more effectively for each patient, by selecting the patients who will benefit from immunotherapy and identifying whether the patient is responding to it or not sooner and better.

And finally, doctors Cristina Saura and Míriam Sansó, also from the VHIO, were awarded the third scholarship, offered for the second consecutive year by ghd to a breast cancer research project. Under the title, “ctDNA in breast milk for early detection of Pregnancy Associated Breast Cancer”, they propose an innovative use of liquid biopsy in breast milk. The goal is to validate the use of breast milk for the early detection of breast cancer associated with pregnancy in order to help improve its current prognosis.

With a 10% higher participation than last year, the FERO Scholarships are consolidated as one of the most important Spanish projects to boost young research talent. The programme, which reached its 10th anniversary last year, aims to promote the development of Translational Oncology Research. The Foundation focuses especially on this type of research, because it allows the laboratory to be brought closer to clinical practice through the collaboration and leadership of all the players involved, so that discoveries take as little time as possible to reach the patients.

The agreement was signed on 17 February in the presence of Mr. Andrés Escarpenter, trustee of the Bosch Aymerich Foundation and Mrs. Piru Cantarell, Director General of the FERO Foundation.