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Cancer heterogeneity and therapy profiling using bioresponsive nanohydrogels for the delivery of multicolor logic genetic circuits.

Project description

A nanoparticle platform for tumour profiling

Recent years have witnessed a significant increase in the use of nanomaterials for cancer theranostics. However, the physiological barriers of the tumour microenvironment (TME) alongside tumour heterogeneity pose major limitations to treatment and therapy. Scientists of the EU-funded GelGeneCircuit project propose to investigate how tumours respond to therapy as well as the underlying factors for the observed heterogeneity. To achieve this, they will develop a hydrogel-based platform for the delivery of nanoparticles that will assist in tumour profiling. Using this approach, they aim to identify novel biological targets and dissect key molecular mechanisms that will prove useful for the design of effective anti-cancer strategies.


Conventional cancer therapies suffer from poor efficacy owing to the lack of efficient delivery systems and to the inherent tumor heterogeneity that requires multi-modal approach to abrogate cancer progression. Nanotechnology holds promise to address these drawbacks, as the use of (bio)nanomaterials for diagnostics and therapy has been gaining momentum over the last years. The main goal of this project is to develop a novel and facile platform capable of profiling both the therapy outcome and heterogeneity in cancer, by using bioresponsive nanohydrogels for the delivery of logic multicolor synthetic gene circuits. These logic synthetic gene circuits will be designed as a biobarcode of multicolor RNA circuits embedded in hybrid nanoparticles and doped in hydrogels for local therapy in breast cancer in vivo. Using cell-type specific promoters, the multicolor miRNA circuits will be expressed specifically to each type of the cells of the tumor microenvironment. Subsequently, this will permit to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy in a cell-by-cell basis and to profile the tumor heterogeneity across different breast cancer types. In order to potentiate the translation of this ground-breaking platform into clinics and precision medicine, novel de-regulated miRNA targets will be identified based on screens performed in breast cancer patient-derived tumors that better reflect the heterogeneous tumor microenvironment in a patient-by-patient basis.
In sum, the material platforms developed herein and newly identified biological targets can be harnessed to design effective cancer treatments that go beyond breast cancer. The project is highly versatile and multidisciplinary and this system can be easily adapted to target any cancer cell type and molecular mechanisms and translated to clinical testing.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 435 312,00
1099 085 Lisboa

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Continente Área Metropolitana de Lisboa Área Metropolitana de Lisboa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 435 312,00

Beneficiaries (2)