LIH leukaemia project to be supported by “Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships”

Prestigious European grant awarded to LIH researcher

      4 October 2021

      3 min read

      LIH leukaemia project to be supported by “Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships”     

      Prestigious European grant awarded to LIH researcher     

      Dr Pablo Elias Morande, postdoctoral fellow within the Tumor Stroma Interactions (TSI) research group at the LIH Department of Oncology (DONC), has been awarded financial support in the framework of the European Commission’s “Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships” funding scheme with an exceptional score of 99.2%. The grant will back the scientist’s work on the elucidation of some of the specific mechanisms underlying chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), thereby advancing the understanding of tumour progression and improving therapy response. 

      The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), and specifically the Individual Fellowships (IF), provide grants to support experienced researchers wishing to diversify their individual competences in terms of skill acquisition through advanced training, international and cross-sectoral mobility. In Dr Morande's case, his home lab is at the National Academy of Medicine in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is a researcher from the National Scientific Council (CONICET).

      In this project, Dr Morande will investigate the interactions between CLL tumour cells, their microenvironment and small structures produced and released by cells – so-called small extracellular vesicles (EVs) – with the aim of unravelling their role in disease progression and exploring their therapeutic potential.

      CLL is the most frequent chronic hematological malignancy of the adult in Europe and, despite recent advances in the standard of care, the disease remains incurable. Small EVs are known to play a key role in cell-to-cell communication and in promoting cancer by influencing multiple tumour-related functions like cellular proliferation, migration and metastasis, while also impairing efficient anti-tumor immune responses”, explains Dr Morande.

      Under the supervision of Group Leaders Dr Jérôme Paggetti and Dr Etienne Moussay, Dr Morande will study the mechanisms underlying sEV-induced cellular modifications in the context of CLL, using mice models and patient samples. Specifically, he will characterise the mechanisms enabling sEVs entry into various types of target cells, test inhibitors or neutralising antibodies to block their tumour-inducing role and study their functional impact on the immune system leading to tumor evasion.

      Through this study, I will contribute to opening up new avenues for the development of innovative immunotherapies against this common form of leukaemia, while at the same time acquiring and strengthening a broad range of new technical and management skills through a variety of multidisciplinary training programmes”, says Dr Morande.

      “These skills will be invaluable assets for my career and this fellowship represents a unique opportunity to use my expertise to improve the lives of patients suffering from leukaemia. I am therefore extremely glad to have been granted this prestigious fellowship by the European Commission, and thankful to my supervisors for their continuous guidance and mentorship”

      he concludes.

      The project is set to start on December 1st 2021 for a duration of 24 months.