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ERC

MATRICAN Report Summary

Project ID: 682881
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MATRICAN (Matrix during cancer progression)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

1 in 3 people will develop cancer in their lifetime, and over 90% of cancer patients die because their cancer has spread through the body - a process called metastasis. All organs and tumours are comprised of a mixture of cells held within a structural scaffold known as the extracellular matrix (ECM). We and others have shown that targeting the ECM scaffold can disrupt tumour growth and metastasis, and also enhance the killing potential of chemotherapy. We therefore believe that through understanding the precise composition and structure of the ECM, we will be able to know how to dismantle tumours.

We have developed a method to isolate ECM scaffolds from organs and tumours such that the 3 dimensional architecture is preserved. We can analyse these ECM scaffolds to know what components they are comprised of and to visualise their structure. The aim of the project is to analyse ECM scaffolds isolated from healthy and cancer-bearing organs to identify potential opportunities for therapeutic intervention to block cancer progression. The overall objectives are to characterise how the ECM scaffold is altered between healthy and cancer states, to test new therapeutic targeting strategies and to study the underlying biology to know how the ECM scaffold can control cell behaviour.

This project is important to society because it studies fundamental biology providing new information on how the body function and how cancer is regulated, and also by developing new therapeutic strategies to block cancer progression that could be translated into the clinic to decrease cancer patient suffering and increase cancer patient survival.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

We published our new method to isolate native ECM scaffolds from organs and tumours. We are working on a follow-up paper where we re-populate the ECM scaffolds with cells to study how they behave in normal and cancer conditions. We had previously collected information of ECM scaffolds from a very basic model of breast cancer. We identified several targets to investigate and have found that these indeed do play a major role in regulating cancer progression. We are working on two papers to publish these findings. We have now collected ECM scaffolds from two more complex models of cancer that more closely recapitulate human disease. We aim to analyse these in the next period and use this information to identify further targets that represent opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Our studies of cancer cell behaviour within the ECM scaffolds is state of the art. We expect to gain much information on how ECM scaffolds regulate cell behaviour in healthy and cancer contexts. We aim to analyse the ECM scaffolds collected from the closer-to-clinic models, and test new ways to disrupt cancer progression. We will also confirm our findings using human patient samples.
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