A study conducted at the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM), one of the most complete efforts undertaken on the biology of head and neck cancer, is one of the three finalists for the 2023 Octavio Frias de Oliveira Award in the category “Technological Innovation in Oncology.”
This prize has been awarded by Grupo Folha and the Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo (ICESP) for 13 years to encourage Brazilian research efforts related to preventing and fighting cancer. On July 1, the Folha de São Paulo newspaper announced this year’s finalists.
The CNPEM study, entitled “Connecting multiple microenvironment proteomes uncovers the biology in head and neck cancer,” was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications in November 2022 and included collaborators from other Brazilian institutions and from Chile. Using a method called mass spectrometry, the group of researchers was able to characterize the various proteins that are present in tumor microenvironments.
Head and neck cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer worldwide. This type of cancer impacts patient quality of life because of the severity of the disease (with high recurrence rates) as well as potential side effects of the available treatments. The study was the first to analyze malignant and non-malignant cells and their respective proteins to identify patterns that might be associated with the development of metastases.
The researchers found changes in the cell components and biological processes at metastasis that could be targeted by new therapies or explored as prognostic markers in cases of head and neck cancer. Additionally, analysis of specific proteins in blood and saliva samples showed that patients with and without metastasis in the lymph nodes can be accurately classified, which offers promise for clinical use.
The other studies chosen as finalists for the Octavio Frias de Oliveira Award involve an RNA vaccine to control cervical cancer, a genetic test to identify thyroid nodules, cell death in glioblastoma, the action of mast cells in colorectal cancer, and a new compound to combat leukemia. Alongside CNPEM, the institutions where these selected studies took place were listed as USP, USP-Ribeirão, UNIFESP, and Onko Diagnósticos Moleculares.
The awards ceremony, where the winners will be revealed, will be held on August 11 at the ICESP auditorium.
Sophisticated and effervescent environment for research and development, unique in Brazil and present in few scientific centers in the world, the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM) is a private non-profit organization, under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). The Center operates four National Laboratories and is the birthplace of the most complex project in Brazilian science – Sirius – one of the most advanced synchrotron light sources in the world. CNPEM brings together highly specialized multi-thematic teams, globally competitive laboratory infrastructures open to the scientific community, strategic lines of investigation, innovative projects in partnership with the productive sector and training of researchers and students. The Center is an environment driven by the search for solutions with impact in the areas of Health, Energy and Renewable Materials, Agro-environment, and Quantum Technologies. As of 2022, with the support of the Ministry of Education (MEC), CNPEM expanded its activities with the opening of the Ilum School of Science. The interdisciplinary higher course in Science, Technology and Innovation adopts innovative proposals with the aim of offering excellent, free, full-time training with immersion in the CNPEM research environment. Through the CNPEM 360° Platform, it is possible to explore, in a virtual and immersive way, the main environments and activities of the Center, visit: https://pages.cnpem.br/cnpem360/ .