Rosa Pascual Domingo from Vinaròs makes progress in breast cancer research from WEHI, in Melbourne – Vinaròs News

Rosa Pascual Domingo from Vinaròs makes progress in breast cancer research from WEHI, in Melbourne – Vinaròs News

Emily Fonollosa

Rosa Pascual Domingo from Vinarosa is part of the research team that discovered in Melbourne (Australia) “progenitor cells” of breast cancer in women at high risk, which was considered a landmark discovery, after its publication in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

The doctor from Vinaros lives in Australia, where she has been working for 5 years Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (WEHI). Research has focused on women who have defective BRCA2 genes, who are more likely to develop breast cancer (70% of carriers develop this disease) and ovarian cancer. Rosa, a biotechnology graduate with a PhD in biomedicine, and her team also discovered a vulnerability in these cells, which they successfully targeted using an existing oncology drug to delay tumor growth in the laboratory. “It was known that this risk existed, but not what cells specifically and what vulnerabilities we could find to attack and somehow be able to predict the development of cancer,” he told VINARÓS NEWS. The developed drug cannot yet be given to patients because it has many side effects, but “it is the first step to creating a preventive treatment. Currently, a large number of these women with defective BRCA2 genes are undergoing preventive breast surgery (mastectomy) to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer,” he told us. through video.

There are many types of cancer, but breast cancer is the most common worldwide, accounting for 12.5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed each year. “Fortunately, there have been many advances in breast cancer research, but we continue to research this and many other types of cancer, to find out how to attack them.”

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When Rosa arrived at WEHI, what had just been discovered was already being studied there. “It was a long task, many researchers were involved, and we are very grateful to the many women who donated their tissues to study and compare.” He assured us that these genes are manufactured with people who do not have the mutation of these genes, in addition to the existence of models made in the laboratory.

Rosa went to Melbourne after accepting a job offer at WEHI that came to her while attending a conference in Denmark. “I have read a lot about what has been done at this institute, which is world-renowned in the field of breast cancer, which is my PhD subject, and who is currently heading my group is the one who suggested I join WEHI.” There he went with his partner from Barcelona, ​​who is also a researcher. After studying biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​he spent two years in the Netherlands for his master's degree, and upon returning to the city, he completed his doctorate at the Biomedical Research Institute of the University of Barcelona.

“I had never been to Australia before, I took it as a life experience and so far it has been very positive, you feel very valued, there are many resources, you are offered a lot of freedom to search, a good salary… Melbourne is a city full of life, whereas in Spain It's hard to feel appreciated.” In addition, Rosa, 35, has roots in Australia, her Catalan partner is also busy there with research, and she became a mother for the first time 9 months ago.

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WEHI is Australia's oldest research centre, at 110 years old and with over 1,300 members, from at least half a hundred countries, even a Nobel Prize was part of it. Frank McFarlane Burnettthe first Australian to win it, in 1960. The first WEHI research began a century ago in search of an antidote to snake venom and now “we work from autoimmune diseases to cancer, malaria and bioinformatics…”

In Australia, despite the distance from the rest of the world, science is also shared, “although you probably have more movement in Barcelona with groups from the rest of Europe.” She wants to continue studying breast cancer in Spain, “where there are very good research groups.” In addition, he misses Vinaros, “Here in Melbourne there are two other girls from my city, busy with other tasks (road engineering and marketing), and one of them was even my officemate since the age of three at Consolacio School.” In Vinaros, Rosa keeps all of her extended family, such as her parents, three sisters, and nephews… as well as many friends. He tries to return to his homeland once a year. “Vinaros gives me an energy that I cannot find in other places,” even though he is 17,000 kilometers away, a ten-hour difference and a 21-hour flight, with a stop in Qatar or Dubai. “They always ask me with sarcasm and affection: ‘Pain? Could you go further than that?

Dr. Rosa Pascual, Professor Jeff Lindemann, Professor Jane Visvader and Dr. Rachel Joyce. WEHI's photo

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