Atlas Translational PhD Program

Targeting metastasizing tumor cells for the prevention of metastasis (MTC-target)

Scientific background

Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality and accounts for approximately 90% of cancer deaths. Due to their vulnerability and easy accessibility within the blood stream, metastasizing tumor cells (MTCs) are an attractive target for combating metastasis. However, therapeutic approaches that specifically target MTCs to reduce or prevent metastasis do not exist. This project aims to identify MTC-specific gene expression profiles to develop therapies to either induce MTC-specific cell death or to express genes in MTCs for recognition by immune cells. Translational potential will be tested by analyzing human databases and patient-derived samples.

PhD project description

This project involves state-of-the-art spatial transcriptomics in combination with preclinical mouse models and human-derived tumor cells as well as all aspects of molecular cell biology.

Required profile of the candidate

  • The applicant should possess a solid academic background in cell biology, molecular biology, or a related field, and demonstrate a high level of self-motivation and be excellent in troubleshooting issues by formulating alternative approaches to overcome challenges.

  • The candidate should also have the ability to work both independently and collaboratively in a team-oriented environment.

  • Bioinformatics skills are required.

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English are expected.

Publications relevant to the project 

  • B. Strilic, S. Offermanns, Intravascular Survival and Extravasation of Tumor Cells. Cancer cell 32, 282-293 (2017). doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2017.07.001.

  • B. Strilic et al., Tumour-cell-induced endothelial cell necroptosis via death receptor 6 promotes metastasis. Nature 536, 215-218 (2016). doi: 10.1038/nature19076.

  • F. Castro-Giner, N. Aceto, Tracking cancer progression: from circulating tumor cells to metastasis. Genome Med 12, 31 (2020). doi: 10.32604/or.2023.028406.

  • D. Schumacher, B. Strilic, K. K. Sivaraj, N. Wettschureck, S. Offermanns, Platelet-derived nucleotides promote tumor-cell transendothelial migration and metastasis via P2Y2 receptor. Cancer cell 24, 130-137 (2013). doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2013.05.008.

  • L. Yang et al., TAK1 regulates endothelial cell necroptosis and tumor metastasis. Cell death and differentiation,¬†26(10):1987-1997 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41418-018-0271-8.

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