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Joan Massagué wins BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine
Date:6/17/2009

Joan Massagu (Barcelona, Spain, 1953) is the first winner of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in the Biomedicine category. The Frontiers of Knowledge Awards are intended to recognize and promote research of excellence. The breadth of disciplines addressed and their monetary amount a combined purse of 3.2 million euros spread over eight prize categories place them among the world's foremost award schemes.

Massagu is Spain's most widely cited working scientist, with his papers referred to on more than 62,000 occasions. His studies, with great potential for clinical application, are opening up fundamental new pathways in the fight against cancer. He has conducted pioneering research into the genetic and cellular bases of metastasis and remains an acknowledged leader in this field.

His group's latest findings, published in the May edition of Nature, explain how tumor cells manage to enter the brain and form a new tumor. Until now, scientists were baffled as to how cancer cells were able to breach the blood-brain barrier which normally protects the brain from harmful substances. Massagu has identified three genes that intervene in the process, but the list will go on and work will continue to determine which is most important in each type of cancer.

Research into the genes involved in cerebral metastasis and their mode of action, "is still very much at the preliminary stage", says Massagu. "These are the first brain metastasis genes to be identified, with clinical data".

Dr. Massague's team is engaged in other research to ascertain how breast cancer cells survive from the time they leave the primary tumor and infiltrate vital organs to the time when, years later, they start to grow uncontrollably and form macrometastases. In the view of the Frontiers laureate, it is during these latent years that metastasis cells may be most vulnerable.

The focus of this research was breast cancer. And his team
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Contact: Javier Fernandez
comunicacion@fbbva.es
34-915-376-615
Fundacin BBVA
Source:Eurekalert

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