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Researchers at University of Coimbra, Portugal, Win the Astellas European Foundation's Inaugural Uro-Oncology Grant

CHERTSEY, England, September 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Dr Celia Gomes wins $150,000 grant to support research looking at NK cell-based adoptive therapy targeting human bladder cancer stem cells

The Astellas European Foundation is delighted to announce that Dr Celia Gomes from the University of Coimbra has been selected as the recipient of the inaugural Uro-Oncology Grant 2013.  

The US$ 150,000 award will support the University of Coimbra's team looking at 'Natural Killer (NK) cell-based adoptive therapy targeting human bladder cancer stem cells: impact on tumour progression using a humanized orthotopic animal model.' This new annual grant complements the Astellas European Foundation's existing annual grant for Functional Urology / Uro-Gynaecology, which has been awarded annually since 2006. The winning project was chosen from 67 applications from a total of 18 countries.

Dr Ayad Abdulahad, Astellas European Foundation Trustee and Senior Vice President Medical Affairs and Health Economics, Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. commented. "Since 2006 research projects in urology, urological oncology and transplantation have benefited from grants worth over US$3 million, to advance our understanding of medicine and health. Of the 67 applications we received this year, it was felt that Dr Gomes' project focussed on Natural Killer cell-based adoptive therapy targeting bladder cancer stem cells was the most deserving of the grant. The judging panel felt that Dr Gomes' application has real potential. This thoughtfully planned proposal is ultimately looking to improve the prospect for patients living with bladder cancer."

Speaking on behalf of her team, the recipient of the Grant, Dr Celia Gomes said: "The main goal of this project is to evaluate the potential of NK-based adoptive immunotherapy in the eradication of cancer stem cells in bladder cancer and its impact in tumor progression, using a humanised animal model closely resembling the clinical situation. The recognition of the value of our proposal by the evaluation committee of the Astellas Foundation Award on Uro-Oncology 2013 is an additional encouragement to all our efforts in the tasks ahead. We expect to go further inside this subject and thus contribute with pivotal insights for an effective use of adoptive immunotherapy in the treatment of bladder cancer patients."

Previous oncology-related recipients of the Astellas European Foundation Urology Grants have included research teams from France and the UK. Researchers at France's Institut Bergonié led by Dr Nadine Houédé, the recipient of the 2008 Grant, announced they had achieved their goal of identifying six new gene targets that could be used for the development of alternative strategies to treat prostate cancer. Their research, published in the December 2012 issue of Molecular Pharmacology, provided proof of concept that it is possible to identify new alternatives to existing treatments for high grade prostate cancers based on the specific genetic background of these highly aggressive tumours.  

The Astellas European Foundation is a registered charity. It was established in 2005 with the goal of providing support for programmes and activities that contribute to the advancement of an increasingly healthy society. The Astellas European Foundation Uro-Oncology Grant supports basic medical and related scientific programmes which contribute to advancements in uro-oncology. The winner of the grant was chosen by a jury that includes independent European leaders in the field of uro-oncology.

Notes to Editors

About The Astellas European Foundation

The Astellas European Foundation is a registered charity, formed in 2005, with the long-term goal of providing support for programmes and activities that contribute to the advancement of an increasingly healthy society. In line with this aim, the Foundation made substantial donations to global charities. The Astellas European Foundation also supports Astellas employees in their private fundraising efforts for charitable causes. The Astellas European Foundation is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, number 1036344.

The Astellas European Foundation was established by funding from Astellas Pharma Inc., but operates independently of it.

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