Where Ideas grow

i3S researchers win grant for cancer research

This year the Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro - Núcleo Regional do Norte (LPCC-NRN - Portuguese League Against Cancer - Northern Region) again awarded 15 scholarships which encourage research in oncology, with two research projects coming from the i3S: “Infiltration mechanisms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia for the systems central nervous system and resistance to therapy” by Telmo Catarino; and “Exploring the altered glycosylation of extracellular vesicles from 3D cultured gastric carcinoma cells for biomarker discovery” by Álvaro Martins.

The main objective of Álvaro Martins’ project, which is part of the research group “Glycobiology in Cancer” led by Celso Reis, is “to explore the presence of glycans (sugars) in exosomes associated with gastrointestinal cancer”. Exosomes, it should be noted, are extracellular vesicles released by cells and which allow them to communicate with each other. The researcher intends to characterize the glycosylation profile of these vesicles released by tumor cells to understand the impact that different profiles have on the modulation of cells in the immune system. This project, he explains, “will contribute to the identification of new biomarkers with potential application in the clinic and new targets for therapeutic strategies”.

For Álvaro Martins to have won this scholarship right after finishing his master's degree “it means a great opportunity to start a career in research”. Furthermore “it also represents an enormous privilege and a great responsibility”.

Telmo Catarino's project focuses on the study of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, these are the most common type of cancer in children, have the most frequent relapses, are the most resistant to therapy, and are most lethal. The researcher’s objective is “to contribute to the development of alternative and specific therapies for leukemias that affect the central nervous system, which are currently a therapeutic obstacle and one of the main factors of mortality”.

Developing research work in the i3S group “Genetic Dynamics of Cancer Cells”, under the supervision of Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos, Telmo Catarino explains that this scholarship “is a recognition of the importance and relevance of the project, and besides being an incentive on a personal level, is also a vote of confidence in my ability to develop”.