To improve the poor clinical outcomes in high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC), we need to understand the cancer cell-tumour microenvironment (TME) dynamic interactions upon disease evolution and treatment. In my proposed project, I will establish a unique TME-HGSC patient-derived organoid (PDO) multi-culture model system to identify and understand how the TME impacts treatment responses and how treatment resistance can be overcome.
To generate multi-culture PDO preclinical models of HGSC for the first time, I will use my own expertise in 3D culture and stromal cell isolation from patient-derived material, and I will integrate self-generated “TME units” with well-characterized HGSC PDOs established at the host laboratory. I will then use this model to study the chemotherapy-induced changes at the single cell level. I will compare the transcriptional states of the treated models to the interval/recurrent PDOs and correlate their in vitro treatment responses to the patient responses. I will predict strategies to increase the sensitivity of the cancer cells to the HGSC standard treatment by targeting the tumour-TME interactions or the cancer cells themselves without generating a more tumour-supportive TME, by using the multi-culture PDOs in high-throughput drug screens and subsequently integrating the generated data. Finally, I will functionally validate the predicted therapeutic strategies by CRISPR gene editing and drug treatment of the models.
I expect that my project will generate profound knowledge on the chemoresistance mechanisms in HGSC and provide the scientific community with a unique experimental model that incorporates the TME to state-of-the-art HGSC PDOs. In addition, this fellowship will allow me to enhance my international visibility through high-impact publications independent from my PhD supervisor and provide me with a great track record in obtaining independent funding, essential to successfully secure independent research grants in the future.
- HORIZON.1.2 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Main Programme