CRIS Radioimmunotherapy project

CRIS Fellowship 2020

Researcher: Dra. María Esperanza Rodríguez Ruiz
Center: Clinica Universidad de Navarra


There are around 35,100 lung cancer deaths in the UK every year, that’s 96 every day. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 21% of all cancer deaths.  

Despite advances in the treatment of these tumours, they continue to present a challenge, both medically and societally. 

The use of immunotherapy is making headway in treating complicated cases of many types of cancer. However, used on their own, these therapies do not work for everyone and they are costly. In this context, radiotherapy can play a key role, since it has been shown to enable the function of T-cells, the cells specialized in finding and destroying tumour cells. This has the potential to increase the effect of immunotherapy, however there are very few specialized studies looking in depth at the benefits of immunotherapy and radiotherapy combined. 

The project: 

Dr Rodríguez Ruiz is undertaking an entirely novel project, in which the combination of a new type of immunotherapy (developed in Spain) and radiotherapy is studied, based on an in-depth study that combines laboratory models with a clinical trial. Benefitting from this potent combination, the results will enable new therapies targeting these tumours to be designed and tested and pave the way for immunotherapy to be used on some hard-to-treat cancer types. 

Prior to joining the Clinical Talent Programme, Dr Maria Esperanza Rodríguez was awarded CRIS-SEOR (Spanish Society for Oncology and Radiotherapy) grants over two consecutive years, which enabled her to undertake a secondment in the United States. Dr Rodríguez thoroughly exemplifies the CRIS philosophy, which seeks to support top researchers throughout the various stages of their careers.