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Friday, 11 November 2022

Prof. Laura Lechuga Gómez receives the Lung Ambition Alliance Award for Innovation Projects dedicated to early detection of lung cancer

by Virginia Greco

The project eNLIGHT, led by Prof. Lechuga, will receive 30,000€ to develop an optical nanodevice that can provide rapid, effective and quantitative diagnosis of lung cancer from a small sample of human blood.

It has been officially announced today that Prof. Laura M. Lechuga Gómez, CSIC Research Professor and leader of the ICN2 NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications Group, has won the Award for Innovation Projects for Lung Cancer Early Detection by the ‘Lung Ambition Alliance-Spain. Thanks to this Award, which is now at its second edition, the eNLIGHT (Ultrasensitive nanophotonic biosensors as a disruptive strategy to improve early diagnosis of Lung Cancer) project will be funded with 30,000 euros over its development period.

The project has been selected after the evaluation of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the call and of a panel of experts in research and innovation. Among the seven projects presented, eNLIGHT has been chosen for its scientific quality, novelty, potential application, and contribution to the early detection of lung cancer.

The eNLIGHT project proposes a novel diagnostic tool to detect lung cancer even in very early stages of the disease. It is an optical nanodevice capable of simultaneously detecting protein and genetic markers, related to the onset and progression of cancer, using only a small sample of the patient's blood.

In the words of Laura M. Lechuga: ‘This award is the stimulus we need to continue working to increase life expectancy through innovative medicine. Early diagnosis could allow for more personalised medicine, as well as the application of more efficient therapies, which would result in an increased rate of patient recovery and survival, for what is currently the leading global cause of cancer death, i.e., lung cancer’.

In a recent paper published in Analytical Chemistry, the ICN2 team led by Prof. Laura M. Lechuga presents a nanophotonic biosensor for the direct real-time detection of the lung cancer-related biomarker microRNA-21-5p in human plasma. The diagnostic capability of the sensor was validated in 40 clinical samples from healthy individuals and lung cancer patients, showing excellent agreement with analyses performed with traditional PCR techniques. The sensor successfully identified and quantified microRNA levels in a single analysis and without the need to extract or amplify DNA samples, demonstrating that early diagnosis of lung cancer can be achieved with a fast, easy and efficient nanophotonic biosensing technique.


About Lung Ambition Alliance

The international Lung Ambition Alliance initiative was established with the aim of doubling five-year survival in lung cancer by 2025. This programme was created by four international organisations – the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the Guardant Health and Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

In Spain, the initiative translated into an alliance formed by: the Spanish Association of Lung Cancer Patients (AEACaP), the Ricky Rubio Foundation, the Spanish Federation of Health Technology Companies (FENIN), the Spanish Lung Cancer Group (GECP), the Spanish Cancer Patients Group (GEPAC), the Spanish Society of Anatomical Pathology-Spanish Division of the International Academy of Pathology (SEAP-IAP), the Spanish Society of Thoracic Surgery (SEAP-IAP), the Spanish Society of Thoracic Surgery (SEAP-IAP) and the Spanish Society of Thoracic Surgery (SEAP), Spanish Society of Thoracic Surgery (SECT), Spanish Society of Cardiothoracic Imaging (SEICAT), Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR), Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), Spanish Society of Radiation Oncology (SEOR), Spanish Society of Medical Radiology (SERAM), World of Johan Cruyff, and AstraZeneca. 

By 2022, it is estimated that lung cancer will increase up to reaching 30,948 new cases, without taking into account the consequences of the pandemic.1 The Lung Ambition Alliance, since its creation in Spain and faithful to its objective, has a strategic roadmap, according to which it is committed to increase screening and early detection tests, to produce advances in innovative medicine and improve the quality of care for patients.

1. From SEOM; Statistics of cancer in Spain available at: https://seom.org/images/LAS_CIFRAS_DEL_CANCER_EN_ESPANA_2022.pdf