Nanomedicine Cancer research: from biology to new tools
Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with most patients succumbing as a result of metastases. Body fluids (e.g. peripheral blood, urine,…) offer unique opportunities for low invasive sampling in cancer patients. Thus, rare cancer associated cells in the blood or in other body fluids, are very attractive research challenges with potential impact in accruing mechanistic knowledge about the disease, achieving diagnostic and staging insight, and allowing personalized patient follow-up and treatment.
Our aim is to study the phenotypic characteristics of rare cancer associated cells isolated from minimally invasive clinical samples using microfluidics. Particular attention will be devoted to Epithelial to Mesenchymal transition (EMT), an important process for cancer dissemination and chemoresistance. Efficient cell isolation systems will be combined with immunoconjugated nanoparticles and sensitive detection technologies to identify and detect all distinct tumour cell phenotypes, overall relevant for early cancer diagnosis, staging, and effective follow up and therapeutic reasoning.
In addition, we aim at developing systems capable of mimicking complex in vivo microenvironments to study cellular communication and the metastatic process in vitro, in order to identify relevant targets for future cancer therapeutic strategies.
Group manager Marta Oliveira