Bone marrow niche – lung cancer crosstalk: gossip or fatal choice of words?

Project Details


Although immunotherapy revolutionized the prognostic algorithm for lung cancer patients, the WHO reported on a staggering 2.21 million new lung cancer cases last year, leaving it the deadliest cancer worldwide. These sobering numbers reflect how unaddressed multiple resistance mechanisms to immunotherapy remain today. We and others reported on the detrimental role of myeloid cells that infiltrate the tumor microenvironment (TME). These arise most often from the hematopoietic stem and progenitors (HPSCs) in bone marrow. Moreover, it has been reported that solid tumors can alter hematopoiesis in function of their progression. Yet, the bone marrow niche (BMN) remains an understudied compartment in the solid cancer field because of its hard-to-reach location and the difficult nature of HSPCs to be cultivated in vitro.
By joining the biomedical and bioengineering forces from the VUB (home) and University of Warwick (host) respectively, this PhD project of Evelyn Calderon Espinosa, aims to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, she aims to design a 3D polymeric and porous scaffold that allows the investigation of the BMN in crosstalk (X-talk) with the lung TME in vitro. On the other hand, she will work in close collaboration with the University Hospital of Brussels to aspirate HSPCs from lung cancer patients during surgery. As such we can apply and compare single-cell sequencing data of HSPCs derived healthy and lung cancer patients and validate novel molecular targets using the X-talk platform to unravel novel HSPC-mediated resistance mechanism to current immunotherapies.
Hence via this interdisciplinary X-talk project, we aspire to deliver an innovative 3D platform next to fundamental biological knowledge that paves the way for novel lung (and other solid) cancer treatments.
Effective start/end date1/10/2130/09/25

Flemish discipline codes

  • Cancer biology


  • lung cancer
  • crosstalks
  • bone marrow niche