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Report from our EACR correspondent at the FEBS Advanced Lecture Course on Oncometabolism

The FEBS Advanced Lecture Course on Oncometabolism took place in Figueira da Foz, Portugal, from 18 - 24 June 2017. The EACR was delighted to be able to support this meeting, sponsoring Prof. Kevin Brindle's lecture "Imaging tumour metabolism in vivo with hyperpolarized 13C-labelled cell substrates – from mouse to man", and three Poster Prizes which were awarded for excellence in poster presentations.

EACR Member Joana Nunes, a PhD student in the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology at the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), Portugal, won a free registration to attend the course as an EACR Correspondent. You can read Joana’s report on her participation below.

"It was a perfect combination of science, networking and fun!"

Interested in becoming our correspondent? Watch out for other opportunities to win free conference registrations through announcements in the EACR e-news bulletin.


Report from Joana Nunes, University of Porto, Portugal

The FEBS Advanced Lecture Course on Oncometabolism was held on June 18-24 on the beautiful coastal city of Figueira-da-Foz, Portugal. The course provided its participants a wonderful opportunity to learn and discuss about groundbreaking research on cancer metabolism in a relaxed atmosphere with a sunny beach as landscape.

One of the topics addressed was the role of metabolism in sustaining the increased proliferation of cancer cells. Speakers provided evidence for how oxidative metabolism, aspartate production, ATP synthase and lipolysis of triglycerides, among others, take part of the metabolic reprogramming that confers proliferative advantage to different types of cancers. It was also discussed the strategies that allow cancer cells to cope with the consequences of metabolic rewiring, for instance, how a high glycolytic rate is associated with mechanisms to control intracellular pH.

Another common take home message conveyed by the majority of speakers was the key role of tumor microenvironment. Cancer cell metabolism can be modulated by the microenvironment, namely the availability of nutrients and the presence of other cell types. It was proposed that there is a metabolic symbiosis between the stroma and cancer cells. Different types of endothelial cells display distinct metabolism, which can be exploited to lead to vessel normalization. On the other hand, it was shown how the metabolism of cancer cells can also contribute for immune escape.

The topic of stem cells was brought up several times during the meeting. We learned about the different types of pluripotent stem cells and their distinct metabolism.  The metabolism of cancer stem cells and how it can be used to target tumor growth and chemoresistance, was the aim of study in several projects, especially those displayed in posters.

Furthermore, the genetic alterations present in the tumor can shape the metabolism of cells. We heard examples of mutations in metabolic enzymes such as SDH and IDH or in p53 and KRas, which are commonly mutated in lung cancer, that have been described as crucial elements to drive tumorigenesis and can create metabolic vulnerabilities. Interestingly, cell cycle regulators, like Cdk4, can have an impact on the metabolism of cells.

Most of the speakers presented new therapeutic approaches to target cancer cell metabolism. The course also provided a broader knowledge on the area and established the grounds for an understanding of today’s research on cancer metabolism through tutorials on “how it all started” and Warburg’s contributions, a master regulator of metabolism – AMPK -, the use of exosomes in cancer therapy and detection and drug development. Participants learned about epigenetics, particularly promoter DNA hypermethylation and the design of mathematical models of cancer metabolism.

One of the best aspects of the course was the opportunity for young researchers to present their work in 3 great sessions of short talks and poster presentations.

Besides all the science that was discussed, the social programs allowed the participants to meet each other in an informal way and to visit some wonderful places in the central part of Portugal.

On a more personal note, I learned a lot during the course and I met potential collaborators and made friends. It was a perfect combination of science, networking and fun!

Até à próxima,

Joana

18 Jul 2017

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