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Evomet – a project to train future leaders in metastasis research


04 Sep 2020
Group Leader Anna Obenauf (c) IMP/Beck

The IMP is one of thirteen European institutions participating in the four-year project ‘Deconstructing the evolution of metastasis’ (Evomet). The consortium partners will train fifteen young researchers in metastastic processes and their evolution to identify therapeutic solutions. To support the project, the European Commission has granted four million Euro under its Innovative Training Networks (ITN) programme, part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. 

The prevalence of cancer is increasing, with more than 3.5 million new cases each year in Europe alone. Metastasis is responsible for the vast majority of cancer-related deaths. The European Evomet project, coordinated by the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona, seeks to train future metastasis researchers to apply the knowledge generated in basic research to the search for therapeutic solutions. The objective is to leverage the development of drugs and, ultimately, have an impact on the clinical treatment of metastasis. 

Immune evasion in metastatic cancer

At the IMP, Group Leader Anna Obenauf will oversee a work package that tackles one of the fundamental questions in cancer biology: how the immune system affects cancer progression. To dissect the molecular mechanisms of immune evasion in metastatic cancer, the IMP researchers will take advantage of CaTCH, a novel technique they recently developed to trace and isolate tumour cells. "Understanding the role of the immune system in metastatic cancer is crucial for the development of effective therapies", says Anna Obenauf. "We are very excited to be part of this international group of scientists and look forward to collaborating with them in the Evomet-project."

In total, the Evomet consortium is formed by thirteen institutions, which include several of the best academic, clinical and industrial centres working in cancer and metastasis research in Europe. Next to the IMP, these are the research institutions IRB Barcelona, the Fundació Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge, the Institute of Cancer Research-Royal Cancer Hospital, and the Consorci Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi I Sunyer; the universities University of Lausanne, University of Cambridge, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Universite Paris-Sacla, University of Basel; and the companies Boehringer Ingelheim, Intomics and ChromaCure SA. The institutions will host and train young researchers in the frame of the project.

Multidisciplinary and intersectoral training

To prepare future leaders in metastasis research, Evomet pursues a multidisciplinary and intersectoral strategy, in which the problem of metastasis is approached from multiple angles, using a wide range of scientific methods. 

"It takes a broad spectrum of scientific and technological capabilities to decipher in detail how metastasis, a deadly feature of cancer, works and develops”, says the project coordinator Roger Gomis, ICREA researcher and head of IRB Barcelona’s Cancer Growth and Metastasis Control Laboratory. “By establishing a multidisciplinary and intersectoral research training programme, Evomet will have a transformative impact on these young researchers, providing them with a comprehensive set of skills that will accelerate the development of a new wave of targeted therapies against cancer and metastasis." 

Find out more about the research of Anna Obenauf’s lab