• Researchers of the University and the HUCA develop an antibody that opens the door to new therapies against invasive therapies

    February 03, 2016

    This biomarker helps disguish malignant tumors from other benign pathologies related

    Cells of a pancreatic cancer

    Invasive colon, breast, lung or pancreas cancer stand out for being prevalent and having a poor prognosis. Some of these tumors are very resistant to traditional medical treatments based on chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which explains the high rate of mortality in those patients. Researchers of the University of Oviedo and the University Central Hospital of Asturias (HUCA) have developed a monoclonal antibody that facilitates cancer prognosis and provides a better description of the cancer aggressiveness.

    The multidisciplinary group has identified a "weak point" in the area that protects the most aggressive tumors and promotes their growth.

    Professor Juan Ramón de los Toyos, immunologist of the Department of Functional Biology of the University, points out that invasive tumors, those that can affect healthy tissues surrounding the original tumor, have a distinctive feature that explains the failure of most part of the traditional treatments. They have kind of a protective cover that consists of a supporting tissue strengthened and enriched with numerous blood vessels created by the tumor itself. This multidisciplinary group of the University and HUCA, which has been working for years in collaboration with biotechnology-based companies, has detected a "weak point" in this cover, identifying a component that is an excellent biomarker for a better prognosis and diagnosis of this type of tumors, thus for a better planning of the best treatments to fight them.

    This biomarker –procollagen XIα1—is especially interesting as it contributes to the formation of the extracellular framework that hosts and supports the tumor. Juan Ramón de los Toyos emphasizes that a main factor in the characterization of the biological role of this molecule consisted in the generation of a specific monoclonal antibody, which is currently used to study the characteristics of the stroma in colon, breast, pancreas and lung tumors, among others. The same antibody also allows experts to distinguish malignant tumors from benign pathologies.

    The researcher explains that the antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, are molecules of the immune system that we all have and that protect us against pathogens and parasites attacks. Antibodies can also be used in the case of tumors, as diagnostic and therapeutic tools. In fact, the antibody identified by the Asturian researchers has already been patented and it is being commercialized by Oncomatryx Biopharma S.L. These researchers are now working to go one step ahead, and are searching for other antibodies which may have an antitumor use.

    Since 2012, the analysis carried out by this multidisciplinary group have been published in journals with high scientific impact like the International Journal of Oncology, PLoS One, BMC Cancer, Histology and Histopathology, and Tumor Biology.


    • COL11A1/(pro)collagen 11A1 expression is a remarkable biomarker of human invasive carcinoma-associated stromal cells and carcinoma progression. Tumor Biol. (2015) 36:2213–2222.
    • Fernando Vázquez-Villa, Marcos García-Ocaña, José A. Galván, Jorge García-Martínez, Carmen García-Pravia, Primitiva Menéndez-Rodríguez, Carmen González-del Rey, Luis Barneo-Serra, y Juan R. de los Toyos.

    Research Group:

    • Marcos García Ocaña, Fernando Vázquez Villa, José A. Galván, Jorge García Martínez, Carmen García Pravia, Nelson Fuentes Martínez, Primitiva Menéndez Rodríguez, Carmen González del Rey Rodríguez, Laura Suárez Fernández, Florentino Fresno Forcelledo, Luis Barneo Serra, Juan R. de los Toyos.

    Portadas de la ciencia. Actividad Financiada parcialmente por la Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT) –Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.