Where Ideas Grow
M. Helena Vasconcelos
Group leader

M. Helena Vasconcelos is presently Associate Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences of FFUP (Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto) and Leader of the Cancer Drug Resistance Group at i3S/IPATIMUP. She obtained her first degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from FFUP, Portugal (1991), an MSc in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (1992) and a PhD from the Department of Chemistry, University of Aberdeen, Scotland (1996). She then moved to Ireland for a post-doctoral position as temporary Researcher at the University of Cork, which was followed by another post-doc position at IPATIMUP. She initiated her teaching career in 1999, while continuing her research career at IPATIMUP and latter at i3S.

Helena's research focuses on the identification and validation of biomarkers and therapeutic targets to overcome drug resistance in cancer. She has been focusing on studying Extracellular Vesicles as a source of biomarkers of drug resistance and their role in the intercellular communication between tumour cells and between those cells and the tumour microenvironment. In addition, she studies the activity of approved drugs and novel small molecules to counteract drug resistance mechanisms. Her work has led to the validation of therapeutic targets and the identification of "hit" small molecules.

Helena has been the PI of national research grants and has also served as referee of research projects for national and international funding agencies. She has been a member of numerous scientific and organizing committees of national and international Meetings, Conferences and Workshops. She is also an Editor of the journals "Cancers" and "Molecules". Helena has also been a Management Committee Substitute Member of COST Action BM1202 “European Network on Microvesicles and Exosomes in Health and Disease” and is currently Work Group Leader and Management Committee Member of COST Action CA17104 “New diagnostic and therapeutic tools against multidrug resistance tumors”. Helena is a co-coordinator of PNEV - Portuguese Network on Extracellular Vesicles.

She has supervised or co-supervised 9 PhD students who have successfully completed their degree and is currently supervising or co-supervising 7 other PhD students. She has successfully supervised or co-supervised 21 MSc students and is currently supervising or co-supervising 2 further MSc students. Helena has also guided 4 hired researchers at post-doctoral level, 7 researchers with post-doctoral grants and has trained numerous young researchers with initiation to research grants (BIs) or technician grants (BTI). She has published 118 peer-reviewed papers in international journals, 2 peer-reviewed scientific papers in national (Portuguese) journals with referees and 4 book chapters, having over 10051 citations and an h-index of 35. Researcher ID: J-9547-2013; ORCID: 0000-0002-7801-4643

Selected Publications

Lopes-Rodrigues V., Di Luca A., Mleczko J., Meleady P., Henry M., Pesic M., Cabrera D., Van Liempd S., Lima R.T., O'Connor R., Falcon-Perez J.M., Vasconcelos M.H.,
Identification of the metabolic alterations associated with the multidrug resistant phenotype in cancer and their intercellular transfer mediated by extracellular vesicles. Scientific Reports7:, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 46] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1038/srep44541 SCOPUS: 85015308172.


Sousa D., Lima R.T., Vasconcelos M.H.,
Intercellular Transfer of Cancer Drug Resistance Traits by Extracellular Vesicles. Trends in Molecular Medicine21(10):595-608, 2015. [Journal: Review] [CI: 108] [IF: 9,3]
DOI: 10.1016/j.molmed.2015.08.002 SCOPUS: 84942521471.


Xavier C.P.R., Castro I., Caires H.R., Ferreira D., Cavadas B., Pereira L., Santos L.L., Oliveira M.J., Vasconcelos M.H.,
Chitinase 3-like-1 and fibronectin in the cargo of extracellular vesicles shed by human macrophages influence pancreatic cancer cellular response to gemcitabine. Cancer Letters501:210-223, 2021. [Journal: Article] [CI: 27] [IF: 9,8]
DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2020.11.013 SCOPUS: 85096944364.


Gonçalves A.C., Richiardone E., Jorge J., Polónia B., Xavier C.P.R., Salaroglio I.C., Riganti C., Vasconcelos M.H., Corbet C., Sarmento-Ribeiro A.B.,
Impact of cancer metabolism on therapy resistance – Clinical implications. Drug Resistance Updates59:, 2021. [Journal: Review] [CI: 12] [IF: 22,8]
DOI: 10.1016/j.drup.2021.100797 SCOPUS: 85121838523.


Peixoto da Silva S., Caires H.R., Bergantim R., Guimarães J.E., Vasconcelos M.H.,
miRNAs mediated drug resistance in hematological malignancies. Seminars in Cancer Biology83:283-302, 2022. [Journal: Review] [CI: 5] [IF: 17 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2021.03.014 SCOPUS: 85104141539.


Vasconcelos M.H., Caires H.R., Abols A., Xavier C.P.R., Line A.,
Extracellular vesicles as a novel source of biomarkers in liquid biopsies for monitoring cancer progression and drug resistance. Drug Resistance Updates47:, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 70] [IF: 11]
DOI: 10.1016/j.drup.2019.100647 SCOPUS: 85074466138.


Assaraf Y.G., Brozovic A., Gonçalves A.C., Jurkovicova D., Line A., Machuqueiro M., Saponara S., Sarmento-Ribeiro A.B., Xavier C.P.R., Vasconcelos M.H.,
The multi-factorial nature of clinical multidrug resistance in cancer. Drug Resistance Updates46:, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 192] [IF: 11]
DOI: 10.1016/j.drup.2019.100645 SCOPUS: 85072866477.


Sousa D., Lima R.T., Lopes-Rodrigues V., Gonzalez E., Royo F., Xavier C.P.R., Falcón-Pérez J.M., Vasconcelos M.H.,
Different ability of multidrug-resistant and-sensitive counterpart cells to release and capture extracellular vesicles. Cells10(11):, 2021. [Journal: Article] [CI: 1] [IF: 7,7]
DOI: 10.3390/cells10112886 SCOPUS: 85117907370.


Xavier C.P.R., Caires H.R., Barbosa M.A.G., Bergantim R., Guimarães J.E., Vasconcelos M.H.,
The Role of Extracellular Vesicles in the Hallmarks of Cancer and Drug Resistance. Cells9(5):, 2020. [Journal: Review] [CI: 65] [IF: 6,6]
DOI: 10.3390/cells9051141 SCOPUS: 85084721560.


Sousa D., Matthiesen R., Lima R.T., Helena Vasconcelos M.,
Deep sequencing analysis reveals distinctive non-coding RNAs when comparing tumor multidrug-resistant cells and extracellular vesicles with drug-sensitive counterparts. Cancers12(1):, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 8] [IF: 6,6]
DOI: 10.3390/cancers12010200 SCOPUS: 85079196794.


Xavier C.P.R., Belisario D.C., Rebelo R., Assaraf Y.G., Giovannetti E., Kopecka J., Vasconcelos M.H.,
The role of extracellular vesicles in the transfer of drug resistance competences to cancer cells. Drug Resistance Updates62:, 2022. [Journal: Review] [CI: 5] [IF: 22,8 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.drup.2022.100833 SCOPUS: 85128197831.


Barbosa M.A.G., Xavier C.P.R., Pereira R.F., Petrikaite V., Vasconcelos M.H.,
3D Cell Culture Models as Recapitulators of the Tumor Microenvironment for the Screening of Anti-Cancer Drugs. Cancers14(1):, 2022. [Journal: Review] [CI: 8] [IF: 6,6 (*)]
DOI: 10.3390/cancers14010190 SCOPUS: 85122071208.