Home > Research > Scientific Programmes: Molecular Oncology Programme > Microenvironment & Metastasis Group

Molecular Oncology Programme

Microenvironment & Metastasis Group

Group Leader:  Hector Peinado
Research highlights
Role of tumour-derived exosomes in lymph node metastasis

Melanoma-secreted exosomes have been shown to home to specific niches in lymph nodes. We are studying how tumoursecreted exosomes promote cellular and molecular alterations in the lymph node microenvironment, fostering metastasis (FIGURE, A). The goal the current project is to determine the mechanisms through which tumour-derived exosomes promote lymph node and distal metastasis. Our studies in melanoma patients will be the first ones evaluating the use of circulating vesicles in lymphatic fluid as biomarkers to predict relapse and metastatic potential.

Linking obesity with metastatic risk

Obesity has been associated with the increased risk of developing metastasis in certain cancers. Although the implication of obesity in cancer is clear, there is, to date, a lack of studies analysing the impact of obesity on metastasis. We are investigating the mechanisms involved in the crosstalk between the adipose tissue, platelets and tumour cells during the metastatic process (FIGURE, B). We are dissecting the systemic effects of tumourderived exosomes in adipose tissue as well as the involvement of platelets, determining their role in metastasis. Ultimately, we aim to determine specific signatures in circulating exosomes and platelets of cancer patients in order to define new prognostic and therapeutic markers that can be applied in the clinical setting.

Novel pathways involved in neurofibromatosis progression

Although neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder, in this project we aim to develop a very innovative concept, which focuses on unveiling unknown pathways involved in exosome secretion during neurofibromatosis progression. We are investigating the molecular signature of exosomes secreted from highly metastatic neurofibromatosis models. Our data support that tumour-secreted exosomes carry a specific signature that can be detected in the circulation. This approach will result in the development of new diagnostic tests and therapies to block neurofibromatosis progression.