Cancer Nanomedicine

The main focus of our research is the use of Cancer Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine in order to tackle crucial medical problems involved in the development of novel and highly effective diagnostic and therapy platforms for cancer. 

Determining the response profile of a tumor, detecting key driver players in tumor progression, and trying to disable those drivers with targeted therapies and engineered materials so as to “smash” the brakes on malignant and metastatic cells to control proliferation is the modus operandus of our research.

Cancer Nanotechnology is becoming a burgeoning field and we are sure that will aim to bring up reality to the Precision Medicine initiative. It is now crucial to empower the potential of Nanomedicine to differentially combat cancer using smart and targeted platforms that mediate highly selective therapies within the tumor microenvironment.

The lack of standardized means to treat and profile the tumor microenvironment calls for a paradigm shift in the way we view and treat cancer. Is in this paradigm that our research focus: tackling real biomedical problems and develop smart materials to beat cancer.

Check groups website at www.conde-nanolab.com

Graphical Abstract

European Research Council - ERC Starting Grant: ERC-StG-2019-848325 – GelGeneCircuit: Profiling therapy and heterogeneity in cancer using bioresponsive nanohydrogels for the delivery of logic multicolor genetic circuits (2019-2024). Funding 1.5M€

  • Study how the tumour microenvironment and heterogeneity is modulated by each therapeutic modality: The molecular pathways that determine the effectiveness of anti-tumour response following a specific therapy are poorly understood. It is now crucial to produce innovative and effective nanomedicines to eradicate the complex tumour network. And at the same time, providing means for understanding the dynamics of the tumour microenvironment and extensively profile the therapeutic outcome and tumour heterogeneity in a cell-by-cell and in a patient-by-patient basis.

  • Use combination therapy to advance Precision and Translational Medicine: Taken one step-forward, we optimized and developed smart combination platforms able to achieve complete tumour resection when applied to non-resected tumours and to the absence of tumour recurrence when applied following tumour resection (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016). It is now imperative to learn how advances in nanosystem’s capabilities are being used to identify new therapy tools driving the development of Personalized Medicine in different cancer types and disease states and recognize how to translate Nanotechnology data and patients-derived Intel into an effective clinical strategy.

FCT Grant PTDC/BTM-MAT/4738/2020 – Biomimetic cell membrane-coated vitamin E-based micelles for multimodal pancreatic cancer nanotheranostics (2020-2023). Funding 250K€

  • Block cancer multidrug resistance: Multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells is a substantial limitation to the success of chemotherapy. We have shown that smart biomaterials were able to sense and differentially react with the disease microenvironment, by detecting the expression of specific genes related with multidrug resistance sensing (Conde et al. PNAS 2015), potentiating targeted drug release as well as gene therapy (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2015, Conde et al. ACS Nano 2012; Conde et al. Advanced Functional Materials 2015; Conde et al. Biomaterials 2013) in certain disease settings.

  • Prevent and treat metastasis using bioresponsive materials: It is crucial to leverage the potential of nanomedicine to differentially combat cancer spread at each stage of the disease. We focused on how to implement new strategies to treat cancer as a function of disease type and state, while leveraging the advancement in materials design and in particular nanotechnology: (1) primary tumour re-programming to prevent metastasis (Avital & Conde et al. Nature Communications 2016); and (2) combination (local and systemic) therapy when metastasis has already transpired (Bao & Conde et al. Scientific Reports 2015).

  • European Research Council - ERC Starting Grant: ERC-StG-2019-848325 – GelGeneCircuit: Profiling therapy and heterogeneity in cancer using bioresponsive nanohydrogels for the delivery of logic multicolor genetic circuits (2019-2024). Funding 1.5M€
    The main goal of this project is to develop a novel and facile methodology for the advance of a system capable of profiling therapy outcome and heterogeneity in cancer using bioresponsive nanohydrogels for the delivery of logic multicolor synthetic gene circuits. This will permit to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy in a cell-by-cell basis and to profile the tumor heterogeneity across different breast cancer types. In order to potentiate the translation of this ground-breaking platform into clinics and precision medicine, newly identified de-regulated miRNA targets will be identified based on screens performed in breast cancer patient-derived tumors that better characterize the heterogeneous tumor microenvironment in a patient-by-patient basis.

 

  • FCT Grant PTDC/BTM-MAT/4738/2020 – Biomimetic cell membrane-coated vitamin E-based micelles for multimodal pancreatic cancer nanotheranostics (2020-2023). Funding 250K€
    Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the most challenging tumors, characterized as a strongly aggressive disease with dismal overall prognosis and a poor 5-year survival rate. Apart from the extremely late diagnosis, the approved therapeutics, including standard chemotherapy, are rendered inefficient, strongly associated with systemic toxicity and to cancer multidrug resistance emergence. This concerning scenario urgently calls for innovative and highly specific therapeutic strategies. Nanotechnology appears as a reliable solution, offering several precision materials for cancer, translated in overall improvements in safety and therapeutic efficacy. Vitamin E (VE)-based nanosystems display interesting features as tailor-made drug delivery nanosystems, owing to VE biocompatibility, biodegradability, endogenous nature and bioactivities.

2022

2021

2015-2020

  • “Revisiting Gene Delivery to the Brain: Silencing and Editing” (2021 Biomaterials Science Emerging Investigators Issue). João Conniot, Sepehr Talebian, Susana Simões, Lino Ferreira*, João Conde*. Biomaterials Science (2020) Featured on COVER.
  • “Why Go NANO on COVID-19 pandemic?”. Sepehr Talebian and João Conde*. Matter (2020).“Nanotechnology-based disinfectants and sensors for SARS-CoV-2” S. Talebian, G.G. Wallace, A. Schroeder, F. Stellacci and João Conde*. Nature Nanotechnology (2020) COVID-19 Special Issue.
  • “Localized Nanotheranostics: Recent developments in Cancer Nanomedicine”. R. Prasad, N.K. Jain, João Conde*, R. Srivastava. Materials Today Advances (2020)
  • “Above and beyond Cancer Therapy: translating biomaterials into clinics” João Conde* Trends in Cancer (2020).
  • “Local triple-combination therapy results in tumour regression and prevents recurrence in a colon cancer model”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, Y. Zhang and N. Artzi. Nature Materials (2016). Highlighted in Science Translational Medicine and Science Bulletin.
  • “Local microRNA delivery targets Palladin and prevents metastatic breast cancer”. A. Gilam, João Conde, D. Weissglas-Volkov, N. Oliva, N. Artzi, N. Shomron. Nature Communications (2016).
  • “Self-assembled RNA-triple-helix hydrogel scaffold for microRNA modulation in the tumour microenvironment”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, M. Atilano, H.S.  H.S. Song, N. Artzi. Nature Materials (2016). Highlighted in Science Translational Medicine and The Scientist.
  • “Implantable hydrogel embedded dark-gold nanoswitch as a theranostics probe to sense and overcome cancer multidrug resistance”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, N. Artzi. PNAS (2015). Highlighted in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.
  • 2021 - Nanomaterials 2020 Young Investigator Award, MDPI.
  • 2021 - Top2% Most Cited Researchers in Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies, PLOS Biology.
  • 2021 - Biomaterials Science Emerging Investigators, Royal Society of Chemistry. 
  • 2019 - ERC Starting Grant: ERC-StG-2019-848325.
  • 2018 - Junior Investigator: FCT Stimulus of Scientific Employment, (CEECIND/01688/2017) Portugal.
  • 2017 - Wellcome Image Awards 2017: Wellcome Trust, UK.
  • 2016 - Nano-Micro Letters Researcher Award, Nature Research Society.
  • 2016 - National Cancer Institute Image award: Cancer close up, USA.
  • 2013 - Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship for Career Development, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IOF).
  • 2009 - PhD Fellowship - National Science Foundation Portugal - PhD Grant (FCT, SFRH/BD/ 62957/2009).
Potential Therapeutic with Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Breast Cancer

João Conde, principal investigator of the Cancer Nanomedicine at NOVA Medical School, published a study in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, which evaluates the potential of a new therapeutic system of nanoparticles for the treatment of breast cancer.

NMS Research with full representation at Ciência 2022

NOVA Medical School will be present at Ciência 2022, the largest meeting of Science and Technology in Portugal, with full representation of its research with its four Research Units and three Associate Laboratories, during for the entire duration of the event at Centro de Congressos de Lisboa.

 

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US),
  • Yale University (US),
  • Harvard Medical School (US),
  • Harvard University (US),
  • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (US),
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital (US),
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (US),
  • University of Pennsylvania (US),
  • Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (Israel),
  • University of British Columbia (Canada),
  • Johns Hopkins University (US),
  • Case Western Reserve University (US),
  • University of Cambridge (UK),
  • University of Oxford (UK),
  • University Hospital Düsseldorf (Germany),
  • Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland),
  • Institute of Nano Biomedicine and Engineering at Shanghai JiaoTong University (China),
  • Centre for Cell Engineering at University of Glasgow (UK),
  • Instituto di Cibernetica “E. Caianiello” (Italy),
  • Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München (Germany),
  • Technische Universität München (Germany),
  • Fundação Champalimaud (Portugal),
  • REQUIMTE (Portugal),
  • iMed.UL (Portugal).

Principal Investigator

João Conde

Team

Bárbara B. Mendes
João Conniot
Pos-doc
João Ravasco
Research Fellow
Diana Sousa
PhD Student
Jhenifer Oliveira
PhD Student
Joana Amorim
Master student