Research topics - Cancer stem cells and novel therapeutic approaches
Tumor cells with stem-like properties, called cancer stem or tumor-initiating cells, are critical players in cancer evolution, metastasis, and tumor relapse. Cancer stem cells are intrinsically resistant to many anticancer drugs and are the leading cause of treatment failure. Therapeutic strategies targeting and eliminating cancer stem cells could determine a fundamental shift in cancer treatment, preventing the phenomena of resistance to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. We have developed experimental methods and models to study cancer stem cells in various tumor types and explore cell-specific vulnerabilities by applying genetic and pharmacological tools. Using these model systems, we are looking at the biological and molecular mechanisms that underlie the acquisition of stem-like properties and the survival and expansion of cancer stem cells and represent actionable pathways for developing novel CSC-directed therapies.