About this project
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Study on the premature aging in fibroblasts from lung cancer patients
Experiments will be conducted to examine how cancer cells induce pro-malignant alterations in fibroblasts, including premature aging.
Study of the aberrant response to TGF-β1 in lung cancer fibroblasts
Experiments will be conducted in the laboratory to detect alterations in the TGF-β1 signaling pathway in lung cancer fibroblasts
study of how lung cancer fibroblasts enhance cancer cell invasion
Experiments will be conducted to dissect which fibroblasts alterations are critical to enhance cancer cell invasion
To buy reagents, cell culture media, antibodies
To buy more reagents, cell culture media, antibodies, etc.
|Total||€ 9.500||€ 14.500|
Lung cancer is among the most frequent and aggressive cancer types. Although lung cancer includes different tumor subtypes that are clearly distinguishable at the histologic level, most lung cancer patients continue being subjected to the same treatments irrespective of their tumor subtype. The latter limitation, along with the fact that current treatments have shown little improvement in the last 40 probably explains why lung cancer remains the first cause of cancer-related deaths.
Lung cancer progression has been traditionally associated almost exclusively with the appearance of oncogenic mutations in cancer cells. Needless to say, these mutations are very important for tumor progression. However, studies carried out in recent years have revealed that cancer cells alone are not sufficient to support the progression of a tumor. Thus, it has been reported that many signals that enable cancer cells to grow, invade other tissues or acquire resistance to therapies are indeed provided by other “non-malignant” cell types that gather around cancer cells. Moreover, there is evidence that these “non-malignant” neighbour cells play initially a protective role against tumor progression, but end up being corrupted by cancer cells to be beneficial for the tumor.
Our young research team has been studying intensively since 2010 the most abundant “non-malignant” neighbour cell type in tumors: the fibroblast. For this purpose, our team has gathered a collection of primary fibroblasts from patients with the main lung cancer subtypes, and has identified molecular alterations that are specific for each subtype. These results are promising, for they could reveal the molecular details underlying the different ways by which cancer cells co-opt fibroblasts, which in turn may foster the development of specific therapies against each lung cancer subtype.
Description of the project. Main features, strengths and differentials.
Despite being a young research team, we have been able to identify molecular alterations in fibroblasts from a major lung cancer subtype. Likewise, we have ongoing studies that may reveal new biological alterations in other major subtypes of lung cancer: adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma. These alterations include a premature aging and hyperesponse to the pro-tumoral cytokine TGF-β1.
To carry out these studies, we have benefited from a collection of tumor fibroblasts from patients from the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, which has been gathered in the last 3 years and is unique in Spain.
If we confirm our promising preliminary results, we will be able to design new studies aiming to identify how cancer cells co-opt fibroblasts to facilitate tumor progression, which will help identify new molecular therapeutic targets.
Why this is important
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The limited efficacy of current treatments demands new approaches to develop novel therapeutics. To address this challenge, our team is benefitting from a collection of fibroblasts from lung cancer patients. There is no other collection like this in Spain, and similar collections are scarce elsewhere. Studying tumor associated fibroblasts provides a unique opportunity to identify new molecular targets that are specific for each major lung cancer subtype. Unfortunately, the recent cuts in scientific public funding, which are affecting young research teams in particular, have reduced the number of researchers in our team from 4 to 1. As a consequence, we have been forced to stop 2 very promising ongoing projects in lung cancer. We are reluctant to accept stopping these projects and not using our valuable collection of fibroblasts until the economy improves, since nobody knows when it will happen. We feel that accepting the current situation is a bad idea that neither us researchers nor lung cancer patients should afford. Accordingly, we appeal those people who understand the need to support new approaches in cancer research conducted in Barcelona.
Goals of the crowdfunding campaign
To complete ongoing studies on the alterations of fibroblasts from major subtypes of lung cancer, including those related with premature cellular aging and the aberrant response to TGF-β1. We expect finding new “Achilles tendons” specific for different lung cancer subtypes, which may foster the development of personalized treatments.
Our research team started in 2010, and currently includes 3 researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) and 1 lung oncologist from the Hospital Clínic (HCP). Major achievements during this time include obtaining continuous funding from competitive calls, completing 2 doctoral theses, publishing numerous studies in specialized peer-reviewed journals, and setting-up scientific collaborations with both national and international groups.
Jordi Alcaraz (UB, CIBERES), principal investigator and associate professor at the School of Medicine of the UB (www.ub.edu/biofisica/jalcaraz). He started doing cancer research as a postdoctoral investigator in the prestigious group of Dr Mina Bissell at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the US (2002-2007), and continued cancer related studies as an independent researcher at the UB since 2007.
Noemi Reguart (HCP), lung oncologist at the HCP and IDIBAPS investigator since 2008. She conducted lung cancer research previously at the prestigious “University of California San Francisco” in the US, and in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol.
Marta Gabasa (UB), biologist and undergraduate student since 2011. She has an extensive experience in lung fibroblast biology, which she has studied using state-of-the-art cell and molecular biology techniques.
Adriana Velásquez (UB), biologist and undergraduate student since 2013. She has experience in analyzing lung cancer samples with different optical microscopy approaches.