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Researcher Jiménez at the cancer research institute. Researcher Jiménez at the cancer research institute.

Doctoral student wins UK award for best thesis of the year

Alejandro Jiménez's work is helping advance immunotherapy in cancer treatment

A Mexican student has won a prize for the best doctoral thesis of the year, awarded by the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

Alejandro Jiménez Sánchez has researched how the human body recognizes cancer cells as a threat, revealing information for the advancement of immunotherapy, a treatment intended to activate the immune system of cancer patients and enable their bodies to halt the condition’s progress.

His research focused on a single patient suffering ovarian cancer. The condition was detected at an advanced stage, but the tumor was removed surgically.

The cancer was back after seven months of chemotherapy, at which point he began his research.

He used computational tools to analyze all biological data, studying the genetic and molecular information obtained from the original tumor and the four that followed it.

This led him to discover properties that hinted at the patient’s immune system contributing to the reduction of two of the four new tumors.

In collaboration with New York researcher Alexandra Snyder, Jiménez validated the results obtained via his computational analysis.

His research was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Cell, leading to the publication of a series of scientific papers based on his work.

Jiménez said he was proud to have been chosen among many other high-level research papers in the field, a honor he never dreamed he would be awarded when he started his doctorate three years ago.

The Mexican student’s research is moving forward, as he is currently collaborating on two projects in Israel, evaluating a model that will detect tumoral cells in mice and studying unique ovarian cancer cells.

He is studying in the U.K. with the help of a scholarship from Conacyt, the National Council for Science and Technology.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute brings together close to 250 scientists from around the globe, all focused on diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer.

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