CRIS researchers discover new therapy to treat one of the most aggressive breast cancers.

Advance published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine: The demonstration that an antibody conjugated to a drug, called EV20/MMAF, is effective against HER2-positive breast tumours that have become resistant to different anti-HER2 therapies.


The CRIS research group for breast and ovarian cancer, which CRIS Cancer Foundation has been funding for 7 years, has made a new discovery in the treatment of HER2 breast tumours – one of the types of more aggressive breast tumours that accounts for 20% of cases of this disease. Specifically, the study has focused on those tumours that are resistant to current therapies and so offer an alternative treatment to patients.


The work led by Dr. Atanasio Pandiella, from the Cancer Research Centre (CIC-IBMCC, University of Salamanca and CSIC), and by Dr. Alberto Ocaña (the University of Castilla La Mancha) of the CRIS Cancer Unit of New Therapies at the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid, has been published in the prestigious journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. The study shows that an anti-body conjugated with a highly cytotoxic drug, called EV20/MMAF, is effective against HER2 positive breast tumours that have become resistant to current anti-HER2 treatments 


“Our goal is to make breast cancer a controllable disease in 100% of cases, and the only way to do this is to continue investigating” says Pandiella.



We at CRIS are well aware of the importance of this finding. We know that research and advances in genetic engineering have proven to be the best formula to cure cancer, especially for those more aggressive types of cancer which currently do not have therapies that are effective. Our daily mission is to facilitate research groups over time, that are durable, so that they continue to look for new therapies to cure this disease that affects us all. We want to congratulate this multidisciplinary team, which works with commitment and in coordination in three cities – Salamanca, Albacete and Madrid – focusing all its efforts on finding treatments for the most aggressive breast cancers. 


Dr. Pandiella details how they have developed the research: “The study has been carried out both in cultured human HER2 tumour cells and in animals. In those injected with HER2 and breast cancer cells, the EV20/MMAF drug was able to exert a powerful antitumour effect. One of the most significant findings was demonstrated in animals injected with cells resistant to a conventional drug called Trastuzumab. In these animals, Trastuzumab-resistant tumours were eradicated by a single dose of the EV20/MMAF drug. After a one-year follow-up, no recurrence was observed in the animals analysed. This result is important because it raises the hope that EV20/MMAF treatment can be used to control HER2 and tumours that are resistant to conventional treatments. 


The CRIS research group for breast and ovarian cancer point out that the next step will be the development of a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of this finding in patients. Dr. Pandiella reveals the importance of continuing to invest in research: “Our goal is to make breast cancer a controllable disease in 100% of cases. The only way to achieve this is to continue investigating to better understand the disease, and thus be able to approach its treatment in an increasingly effective way. Support for research helps to solve patients’ problems, which is why CRIS Cancer Foundation is important. It is vital that this support be maintained to achieve the goal of controlling breast cancer. People need to understand the importance of such research and continue to support CRIS, which channels donations to research projects,. 


Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women and the one that causes the most death among the female population and the third in the population after colorectal and prostate cancers.


CRIS Cancer Foundation has been supporting this group for 7 years, allocating more than €50,000 per year to the development of new breast cancer therapies, obtaining great results in recent years developing different clinical trials.