Universidade do Algarve | 14h00 | Auditorium 1.8.1
Title: “MicroRNAs deregulation in urological tumours: from biology to clinics””
Abstract: The most common genitourinary (GU) neoplasms (i.e., prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers), represent the second most prevalent group of tumours only surpassed by lung cancer. All three are generally clinically silent at their earliest stages, when curative treatment is most likely successful. However, there are no consensual guidelines for GU cancer screening and available methods are characterized by suboptimal sensitivity and specificity. Moreover, standard clinical and pathological parameters meet with important limitations for the assessment of prognosis in an individual basis. An increasing body of evidence is implicating microRNAs (miRs) as driving forces of neoplastic transformation. Our research team has recently identified novel epigenetically regulated onco-suppressor miRs in prostate cancer, controlling processes such as cell cycle, cell viability, invasion potential and cellular senescence. Importantly, in vitro studies showed that restoration of those miRNAs expression attenuated the malignant phenotype of PCa cell lines.
Cancer-related miRs alterations are also a source of new cancer biomarkers, intended for early detection, diagnosis and assessment of prognosis. The importance of early diagnosis in Oncology has been emphasized and although current methodologies (such as cytology, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, etc) play a critical role, molecular markers may complement or, eventually, replace them if more effective. Because miRs’ deregulation frequently precede the development of the malignant phenotype, they might enable earlier cancer detection. These miRs are detectable in clinical samples obtained by non- or minimally invasive methods, including biopsy and urine sediments. Moreover, cancer relapse detection before its clinical manifestation (or on imaging during routine patient follow-up) might be accomplished through miR-based biomarkers.
In my talk, I will focus on the major findings obtained by our research team regarding miRs implicated in urological tumorigenesis as well as the potential usefulness of miR-based biomarkers for detection and prognostication of these cancers.
Short Bio: Carmen Jerónimo was born in Angola in 1972 and completed her degree in Biology at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto in 1994. She received her Master degree in Oncology from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto (ICBAS-UP) in 1998 with a thesis entitled “Transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder: expression of p53, bcl-2, nm23, CD44s, CD44v6 and BL2-10D1 and its relationship with histological grade and stage” (scholarship JNICT-PRAXIS XXI/BM/8579/96). In October 1997 she was accepted as a student in the PhD Program in Basic and Applied Biology (GABBA). After the completion of the academic year, she developed her PhD project at the Head and Neck Cancer Research Division, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, under the supervision of Prof. David Sidransky, and at the Department of Pathology of the Portuguese Oncology Institute, Porto (IPO-Porto), under the supervision of Prof. Carlos Lopes (scholarship FCT-PRAXIS XXI/BD/13398/97). In 2001 she obtained her PhD degree in Biomedical Sciences from ICBAS-UP with the thesis entitled “Molecular detection of prostate cancer”. Until August 2004 she developed her post-doctoral project at the Department of Genetics of IPO-Porto in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, entitled “Detection of neoplastic cells by DNA-based technology in clinical samples obtained from non-invasive or minimal invasive methods “(scholarship FCT-SFRH / BPD 8031/2002). From September 2004 to June 2009, along with the scientific activity carried out at the Cancer Genetics Group of the Research Centre of IPO-Porto (CI-IPOP, Coordinator: Manuel R. Teixeira, MD, PhD) as Invited Assistant Researcher, she was Assistant Professor at Fernando Pessoa University, teaching practical and theoretical lectures of Histology and Embryology, Medical Genetics, Molecular Genetics and Pathology to various degrees in the area of Health Sciences.
Since January 2008, she coordinates the Cancer Biology & Epigenetics Group of the CI-IPOP that was then established. In July 2009, after applying for the 2008 Science Program, she was hired as Assistant Researcher.
In November 2009 she became Invited Associate Professor of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Immunology of ICBAS-UP, teaching to the Integrated Masters in Medicine and in Bioengineering, and also to the Masters in Oncology, in Biochemistry and in Molecular Medicine and Oncology, and in the PhD Programs in Molecular Medicine and Oncology, in Pathology and Molecular Genetics and in Biomedicine, from University of Porto.
In 2011 she was granted the academic title of “Agregado” in Pathology and Molecular Genetics by ICBAS-UP.
Currently, her research interests’ aim at characterizing the epigenome of tumor cells, through the establishment of the profile of DNA methylation, of histone modifications and alteration patterns of miRNA, of genes related to tumorigenesis and the identification of functional changes involved in the breakdown of cell epigenetic homeostasis. Additionally, the development of cancer biomarkers based on epigenetic for urologic cancers is one of the major objectives of her research. Epigenetic-based therapy of cancer is also an active area of research, using cell lines as models for studying the biological effects of epigenetic-modulators as potential therapeutic agents in common human cancers. She has authored or co-authored more than 70 international scientific publications including two book chapters and several review articles. She supervised a PhD Thesis and four Master Dissertations, and co-supervised a PhD thesis and a Master Dissertation. Currently, she supervises three PhD and two Master students, and co-supervises four PhD and three MSc students.