Where Ideas Grow

i3S researcher rewarded for work in lung cancer

Researcher Susana Junqueira Neto, from the “Intercellular Communication and Cancer” group, was recently awarded the Best Oral Communication Award at the XXVIII Northern Pneumology Congress, which took place on the 8th and 9th of October. The work she presented focuses on the resistance of lung tumor cells to targeted therapies and points to new treatments.

In lung cancer, resistance to anti-EGFR therapy is almost always observed and in about 50% of patients this resistance is due to a mutation present in the tumor cells that divide and transmit this mutation to the offspring. This is called “vertical (resistance) transmission”. However, says the i3S researcher and PhD student at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP), the existing clinical data show that only a part of the tumor cells that acquire resistance contain this mutation, which “indicates that there are others mechanisms present in tumor cells that explain the widespread resistance to therapy”.

In this work, entitled “Horizontal transfer of resistance to anti-EGFR therapy between lung cancer cells”, results are presented which suggest that resistance to anti-EGFR treatment in lung cancer may be transmitted by tumor cells in a ‘horizontal’ way, in other words “through the communication that the cells establish among themselves”, explains Susana Junqueira Neto.

These results, she adds, “question what was already known about the acquisition of resistance to targeted therapies and open the door to the use of intercellular communication and intracellular traffic as potential therapeutic targets”.

For the researcher Susana Junqueira Neto, this award “represents a great recognition of the research I have been developing in the area of oncology and is an important motivating factor to complete my PhD”. The Best Oral Communication Award at the XXVIII Northern Pneumology Congress consists of an entry for the European Congress ERS 2022 (European Respiratory Society International Congress), which, for the researcher, represents “a fantastic opportunity to promote my work internationally”.