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FLAD supports i3S researcher's pancreatic cancer study

i3S doctoral student Carolina Ruivo recently won financial support from FLAD, worth 9000 euros, to study pancreatic tumors. More specifically, the way tumor cells communicate with each other through extracellular vesicles called exosomes. The work will be developed at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Texas.

Carolina Ruivo applied with a project integrated in the doctoral work she is developing in the Genetic Dynamics of Cancer Cells group, which has several collaborations with the laboratory of researcher Raghu Kalluri from the MD Anderson Cancer Center. "In this project", Carolina explains, "we want to understand how the communication of cells through exosomes occurs in the tumor microenvironment and how this process affects the behavior of subpopulations of cancer cells and promotes tumor progression".

To study this communication process Carolina Ruivo will use a 3D model that replicates the environment of pancreatic tumors. "With a microscopy technique (two-photon laser scanning microscopy) that allows the visualization of internalization of exosomes in these models, we are able to analyze the dynamics of communication and understand how these subpopulations form a communication network among themselves", she explains.

On the other hand, Carolina adds, "our laboratory has developed an animal model of pancreatic cancer that allows us to genetically control the production of exosomes and thus block communication between specific subpopulations. Given this and using the single-cell RNA sequencing technique, the researcher also intends to analyze the effects of blocking certain communication pathways and discover which genes are altered by exosome-mediated communication". The support from FLAD "represents a great opportunity to learn certain techniques and then implement them in my laboratory".