Characterization of the Molecular Core of Oesophageal Cancer.

cancer • transcriptomics • tumour heterogeneity

Benjamin Beck is a Research Associate at the FNRS and a member of the ULB Cancer Research Centre and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Human and Molecular Biology (Université libre de Bruxelles). His laboratory studies oesophageal cancers.

It has been well established that tumours are heterogeneous. This heterogeneity partially reflects the different mutations that are found in tumour cells. Recent sequencing data has led to the identification of three different groups of spinocellular carcinoma-type (SCC) oesophageal cancers. It is important to determine whether these different mutations cause phenotypic differences and if there are targets that could be used to treat SCC, no matter its mutation. To this end, it is necessary to develop murine models that reproduce, as closely as possible, the heterogeneity of human SCC.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach in various murine SCC models, this project aims to identify the transcripts (the “transcriptional nucleus”) needed for tumour growth and progression, as well as resistance to treatment. Benjamin Beck and his colleagues will study human cell lines of oesophageal SCC with mutations that correspond to the three identified sub-groups, in order to determine to what extent these transcriptomes are retained in human tumours. Finally, the functional aspect of this transcriptional nucleus will be studied using gene invalidation on murine and human cancer cells from various models. The results of these experiments will result in crucial data about the specificity of SCC subgroups and the therapeutic potential of the components of the transcriptional nucleus of these cancers.

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