i3S pancreatic cancer research wins Keystone grant

Nuno Bastos is a student in the Doctoral Program in Pathology and Molecular Genetics, at ICBAS and FMUP.
Photo: i3S

the investigator Nuno Bastosdo Institute for Research and Innovation in Health of the University of Porto (i3S)was awarded a “Keystone Symposia Future of Science Fund scholarship award” your work in the field of pancreatic cancerwhich allowed him to identify a specific population of these patients who could benefit from immunotherapy.

The project with which Nuno Bastos applied for this funding granted by the Keystone Education Group is being developed within the i3S research group «Intercellular Communication and Cancer», within the scope of the Doctoral Program in Pathology and Molecular Geneticsdo Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS) and yes Faculty of Medicine of the U.Porto (FMUP)under the guidance of researcher Sónia Melo.

In this project, explains the researcher, “we focused our study on pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most lethal in the world, with a survival of approximately 8% after five years”.

Since this type of cancer is characterized by the presence of an extensive extracellular matrix and the cancer cells are dispersed in the tumor mass, “we decided to evaluate the mechanisms of intercellular communication at a distance, namely exosomes, which are small vesicles that cells release to communicate with each other”, adds Nuno Bastos.

Recently, the team that Nuno Bastos is part of, found that exosomes released dependently on a specific protein, Rab27a, have an anti-inflammatory role and inhibit tumor progression.

“We also found that this protein loses expression during tumor progression in human samples, which reveals the crucial role of inflammation in pancreatic cancer”, explains the researcher. These results, he emphasizes, “allowed us to identify a subgroup of patients characterized by the low expression of this protein that could benefit from immunotherapy”.

The award will allow the researcher to participate in a Keystone conference entitled «Exosomes, Microvesicles and Other Extracellular Vesicles», which will take place between October 30 and November 3, 2022, in the United States.

“It will be a unique opportunity to present my work at a prestigious conference and to establish new contacts and partnerships that can be very important to me in the future”, emphasizes Nuno Bastos.