2020-2023 Recipient: Elisa Facen

Elisa Facen is the winner of the 2020-2023 Pezcoller Foundation - Marina Larcher Fogazzaro PhD fellowship. She worked in the Laboratory of Genomic Screening, led by Prof. Alessandro Provenzani.

Elisa's cancer research project: Targeting RBPs in Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumours

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs) are highly aggressive soft tissue sarcomas with strong metastatic proclivity for which there is no effective therapy.  Targeting dysregulated transcriptomic programs in cancers has emerged as an innovative and promising therapeutical strategy. In particular, RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are increasingly recognised as attractive targets because they can regulate type and abundance of hundreds of transcripts. We identified the RBP HuR as an essential regulator of aberrant oncogenic programs in MPNST, and present evidence that HuR inhibition has profound cytostatic and cytotoxic effects on tumour growth, and strongly supresses their metastatic capacity in vivo, making HuR an ideal therapeutic target in MPNST 1. Furthermore, in preliminary studies, we have found that, in addition to HuR, there are several RBPs that are differentially expressed in MPNSTs, which might potentially play key roles in MPNST growth and metastasis. Our goal is to dissect the functional importance of RBPs for MPNST growth and metastasis.
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