OVERVIEW

The general interest of the Systems Oncology lab is to understand how crosstalk between tumor cells and non-tumor cells supports oncologic disease. Specifically, the lab studies how the exchange of extracellular vesicles, a natural form of communication in the body, can be utilised by cancerous tumors for growth and metastasis. Recent results from the team have shown not only that these vesicles are different in cancer patients, but also that they can activate healthy cells at remote locations to support tumors. Following these results, the lab currently focuses on developing animal models of tumor initiation, progression and metastasis, in combination with characterisation of extracellular vesicles isolated from tumor cell lineages and oncologic patients with diverse clinical profiles. By using this approach, the lab aims to gain mechanistic understanding of this form of communication with the end goal of developing tools for  early detection, follow-up and treatment of cancer.

Main Interests

How the exchange of extracellular vesicles, a natural form of communication in the body, can be utilised by cancerous tumors for growth and metastasis

Methods

Flow cytometry, Cell culture, Animal models of cancer

Models and Regions

Mice

how crosstalk between tumor cells and non-tumor cells supports oncologic disease

STRATEGY

Our overall goal is to investigate whether healthy tissues, locally and at distance, can contribute to tumor genesis, progression and metastasis, and if extracellular vesicles act as mediators of this process. For that, we are interested in:

(i) Novel tumor-associated cells: identify underappreciated non-malignant cellular counterparts (other than fibroblasts, endothelial cells and immune cells) susceptible to tumor-derived messages and with potential role as pro-tumor ancillary cells.

(ii) Stroma-tumor communication: identify messages (e.g. extracellular vesicles) derived from non tumor tissues, locally and at distance, that can influence tumor progression.

(iii) Phenotypic characterization of extracellular vesicles: by state-of-the-art flow cytometry in combination with detailed molecular characterization, identity extracellular vesicles subpopulations of different cell of origin and/or pathologic background relevant for tumor biology.