Aragón seeks new treatments against fungal infections suffered by children with cancer

A group of Aragonese scientists undertakes a two-year project in which they will seek more effective treatments against the most common fungal infections suffered by children with cancer being immunosuppressed by the aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments they receive to cure themselves.

Eva Gálvez, from the CSIC Institute of Carbochemistry (based in Zaragoza) and Maykel Arias, from the Aragón Health Research Institute (IIS Aragón), will lead the group, thanks to a contribution from 60,000 euros from the Association of Parents of Oncological Children of Aragon (Aspanoa).

“We are very happy and we are especially excited to be able to carry out this project with the support of Aspanoa, which is precisely dedicated to support children with cancer in Aragon and their families”, assured Dr. Eva Gálvez.

The project will be developed during the next two years and the experiments will be done in vitro and also in vivo in worm and mouse models, with the aim of testing its efficacy and safety in order to later be able to carry out clinical trials in patients.

It seeks to combat these fungi through the new immunotherapy treatments and, specifically, of nanoantibodies (nanobodies or small fragments of antibodies produced in alpacas) and of the so-called CAR-MA cells (CAR cells derived from macrophages), which will be developed in the laboratory so that recognize the fungus and attack it.

This is highly innovative research because until now these immunotherapies have been used mainly against tumors and we want to prove that they are also valid for fungal infections.

The results will form an important step since a part of the mortality associated with childhood cancer derives from fungal infections. In fact, in some types of childhood cancer, such as leukemia (the most common), it is estimated that 10% contract these infections.

“These fungi are not dangerous for a healthy person, but in the case of immunosuppressed patients, such as children with cancer, they can be lethal,” explains Dr. Eva Gálvez, who adds that The most common fungal disease is invasive aspergillosis. that can lead to the death of up to 70% of children with cancer who contract it.

Participating in this project more than a dozen Aragonese researchers, Both basic and clinical. Coordinated by the Institute of Carbochemistry of the CSIC, scientists from the Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Units of the Hospitals Clínico and Miguel Servet, the Aragón Health Research Institute and the BIFI of the University of Zaragoza will collaborate.

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