Microbiome and CRC

Over the past years it has been shown that dysbiosis, a state of pathological imbalance in the microbiome, is present in patients suffering from colorectal cancer (CRC). Accordingly, several microbiome studies identified specific bacteria being associated with CRC. Some of these bacteria were described to directly interact with cancer and immune cells of their host. Nevertheless, only a very low number of CRC-associated microbes have been studied for host-microbial interactions, thus the role of bacteria in the etiology of the disease remains unknown. In this project, we aim at studying CRC-associated bacteria and their role in colon cancer tumor initiation and progression. This approach should help addressing the question of whether microbes are cause or consequence of CRC and ultimately, might lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for CRC treatment.

Supported by: FNR PRIDE MICROH Doctoral Training Unit project

PI: Elisabeth Letellier

Effects of environmental stress factors on colon cancer and its microenvironment

The tumor microenvironment (TME) has been shown to play an important role in tumor development, especially in cancer initiation and metastasis. Immune cells, the extracellular matrix, angiogenesis, hypoxia, all have been uncovered as vital determinants of tumor behavior and expansion. Amongst all these various microenvironmental players, cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) have been suggested to play a key role in tumor development. Within the present project, we would like to 1) understand the role CAFs in CRC, 2) identify and characterize different CAF subpopulations and 3) finally assess the importance of CAFs in therapy resistance. To address these questions, several analyses will be performed, amongst which single cell sequencing.

Supported by: FNR PRIDE Doctoral Training Unit project (CANBIO and CORE)

PI: Elisabeth Letellier and Serge Haan

Biomarkers for CRC

Over the past years, our group has established, in collaboration with different hospitals within the country as well as with the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) and the Laboratoire National de Santé (LNS), an ongoing collection of tumor tissue samples from CRC patients that accounts for over 150 high quality patient samples. This collection contains tumor tissue as well as normal counterparts and different other collection samples such as serum, plasma, hair, saliva and stool samples. For all patient samples, the clinical information as well as the molecular data belonging to them is accessible, and thus allows studying clinical parameters, ultimately leading to potential interesting translational findings.

There is an urgent need for novel diagnostic markers, as well as molecular determinants of clinical outcome, which allow for the targeted treatment of patients at risk of relapse. By using a variety of clinical resources including our CRC cohort, we have recently identified promising biomarkers. A patent now protects one of the identified gene signatures and we have obtained additional funding to translate the biomarker into the clinics. We continue using our generated datasets and tools to further identify biomarkers in CRC.

Supported by: FNR Proof of Concept Study (MyoRPROG)

PI: Elisabeth Letellier

Other projects

  • Integrated multi-omics profiling of primary tumors and metastases from colorectal cancer patients: towards tailor-made therapies (MetPM)

        Supported by: Personalised Medicine Consortium (PMC)

        PI: Elisabeth Letellier

  • Combination therapies in Melanoma

        Supported by: Fondation Vera Nijs and Eric Rosborg

        PI: Elisabeth Letellier

  • Effects of pesticides on the gut and their role in cancer development

        Supported by: Fondation Cancer and Fondation Kriibskrank Kanner

        PI: Elisabeth Letellier and Serge Haan

  • Personalized drug treatments for colorectal cancer patients (PersoCRC)

        Supported by: Fondation Marie Jeanne & Edmond Schumacher

        PI: Elisabeth Letellier

  • MYOSIN5B as a biomarker in skin cancer

        Supported by: Fondation Vera Nijs and Eric Rosborg

        PI: Elisabeth Letellier