Project: Characterization of Uveal Melanoma Dormant Disseminated Cancer Cell Biology
Cancer metastases is a leading cause for patient death that has been traditionally understudied compared with primary tumours. Disseminated cancer cells (DCCs) can leave the primary tumour at very early stages, seed future metastases and remind dormant for years, until some change “awakens” DCCs causing metastasis. To understand the mechanisms of DCCs dormancy is critical to design durable therapies for cancer patients,. Dormant DCCs lay in quiescence and cannot be eradicated by chemotherapy and common mitogenic pathway targeted therapies, as these are turned off.
Uveal Melanoma (UM) is the most common adult intraocular malignancy and a relevant model of prolonged cancer dormancy. 50% of UM patients, treated for primary tumours, succumb to liver metastases up to 15 years later. Standard therapies fail in UM and there are no specific therapies, highlighting an urgent need for effective treatments3,. Inhibiting mechanisms that promote UM dormant DCCs survival or that cause an irreversible dormant state will allow treatments to be long-term effective2. Identifying these mechanisms will also provide prognostic markers to determine whether DCCs are or not dormant and will inform on outcome and therapy response2. Importantly, this will help to detect minimal residual dormant disease after therapy, with the goal of eradicating it. These findings may also be applicable to other cancers.
Objectives (1) to understand the mechanistic basis of UM dormancy, and (2) to design effective treatment options to prevent and treat metastasis.
The laboratory is happy to help the student to apply for specific scholarships and fellowships to conduct this internship. Starting date is flexible. To apply for this internship opportunity, or for more information, contact [email protected].