“It’s an enormous opportunity for me”

porträtt av Veronica

In March, Verónica Rendo was awarded a Junior Investigator Award from the Cancer Society, providing funding for a six-year research position.

For Verónica Rendo, Researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology, the past two months have been a time of joy. But it has also been a period of choice after securing research positions funded by both the Swedish Cancer Society and the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund.

Verónica Rendo is currently researching how different types of brain tumours become resistant to treatment and how to overcome this challenge. In March, she was awarded a Junior Investigator Award from the Cancer Society, providing funding for a six-year research position. A month later, it was time again, when the Childhood Cancer Fund announced its grant decisions.

For the 34-year-old, who is still in the early stages of her research career, this meant both great opportunities and a difficult decision.

“Receiving support from the Childhood Cancer Fund was very gratifying and honourable. Unfortunately, I had to decline it, as I also received a Junior Investigator Award from the Swedish Cancer Society, which I have chosen to pursue instead, and where the research largely resembles what I had planned for the Childhood Cancer Fund. I cannot use both, but I hope to be able to work with the Childhood Cancer Fund during my career to find better treatments for this type of brain tumour,” says Verónica.

“The funding from the Swedish Cancer Society means that I have an enormous opportunity to establish myself as an independent researcher and advance the research I want to conduct,” she adds.

As cancer continues to be one of the biggest challenges in healthcare worldwide, it is within this area that Verónica Rendo has chosen to focus her research.

“We are all too familiar with having someone in our family or circle of friends with a cancer diagnosis. The brain tumours that I study, known as high-grade gliomas, currently have a zero per cent survival rate due to the lack of curative treatments. This motivates me to conduct research that could potentially advance and facilitate new treatments,” Verónica explains.

Important protein could be the key

The project linked to the funding of the research position from the Cancer Society, which she has chosen to pursue, is titled Leveraging functional and descriptive genomic approaches to overcome therapeutic resistance to p53 reactivation in high-grade brain tumours. In it, Verónica hopes to exploit the reactivation of a specific protein to kill cancer cells.

“High-grade gliomas (HGG) are the most common malignant tumours of the brain. They affect people of all ages and are universally fatal. A major challenge to overcome here is that patients become resistant to what already is a limited number of treatment options, meaning that there is no cure. My research focuses on a key protein in cancer called TP53, which can regulate how the tumour cells stop growing or die. A majority of tumours attract this protein and can, therefore, respond to treatment with small molecules that can induce cell death by activating the protein’s function,” Verónica explains.

“In my research proposal, I plan to combine advanced genetic editing and sequencing tools to study how each cell of a brain tumour becomes resistant to treatment with TP53 reactivating molecules. Hopefully, this will identify which treatments can be effective together with these molecules, and, in the long run, be more effective in killing tumour cells.”

Robin Widing

Other grants from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund

Research MD positions for two years:

Eric Morin, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health: “Monitoring paediatric brain tumours through the analysis of proteins and exosomes in cerebrospinal fluid.”

Helena Sjöström, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health: “Hormonal and metabolic side effects after radiation therapy for childhood brain tumours.”

Postdoctoral positions for two years:

Maria Globisch, Department of Medical Sciences: “Exploration of cancer spread to the central nervous system in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.”

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