Nanoscale Understanding of Cell Signalling and Biological Response
My project aims to understand if nanoparticles promote changes in the cell communication by themselves and also together with radiation.
One of the main therapeutic approaches towards cancer treatment is radiotherapy. X-rays delivered during radiotherapy can cause DNA damage, which ultimately will lead to cell death. However, in our body and organs, cells communicate between them and this should be taken into account when using radiotherapy. Cells that haven’t been directly exposed to radiation can have the same biological responses as if they were, due to signals received from irradiated cells nearby. This process is called bystander effect and despite the achievements reached so far the specific action mechanisms need further clarification as these changes in cell communication may influence the patients outcome and be a cause for the high variability of treatment responses.
Moreover, in a clinical context, increasing radiotherapy efficacy by enhancing the delivered local dose of radiation could reduce side effects and an increased tumor control. This can be achieved using metal nanoparticles (small particles from 10-100nm size) such as gold or gadolinium. These can improve the contrast between the tumor and the surrounding tissue allowing to image the tumor. Also they can contribute to the enhancement of the deposited dose within the tumor (radiosensitizors).
However in order for these nanoparticles to be used clinically they need to be tested in regards to their effectiveness in radiosensitizing cancer cells, imaging potential, toxicity and further changes caused in cell signaling. Furthermore, we aim to determine the effects on different cellular compartments, toxicity and cell death mechanisms in the presence of nanoparticles and radiation.
2010-2012: MSc, Human Biology and Environment, Faculty of Sciences of University of Lisbon
2007-2010: BSc, Biology with specialization on Molecular and Genetic Biology, Faculty of Sciences of University of Lisbon
2013-2014: Volunteer internship, Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine