Dr. Eduard Batlle explains the complexities of Colorectal Cancer in an IDIBAPS Seminar

Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is one of the leading causes of death by cancer worldwide. Dr. Eduard Batlle leads the Oncology Program and the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory at the Barcelona’s Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), where they study the initiation of CRC and its progression from the early stages to the formation of invasive tumors. On Monday June 17th he offered an IDIBAPS Seminar titled “Understanding Colorectal Cancer as a Stem Cell hierarchy”. The Seminar was presented by Dr. Cristina Nadal, IDIBAPS investigator at the Molecular and translational oncology team that collaborated with Dr. Batlle in some of the results he presented. The Seminar turned out to be one of the recent sessions with the highest participation from the audience.

The Seminar was organized in two main parts. In the first one, Dr. Batlle exposed some experiments undergone with primary colon tumor organoids, live structures grown in vitro that retain important physiologic features of colorectal tumors. Primary culture of tumor organoids potentially provide a relevant and feasible means to study the mechanisms of colorectal cancer progression and potential therapeutic modalities for this disease.

During the second half of his presentation he exposed some results related with the role of TGF-ß. In a recent paper published in Cancer Cell, with Dr. Cristina Nadal among the authors, he and his collaborators demonstrated that the activity of TGF-ß on stromal cells increases the efficiency of organ colonization by CRC cells. This protein triggers other events such as the secretion of IL11 by TGF-ß-stimulated cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) which triggers GP130/STAT3 signaling in tumor cells, conferring a survival advantage to metastatic cells.

Finally, Dr. Eduard Batlle talked about the concept of cancer stem cells and its role in generating and populating cancer tissue and discussed about the current scientific debate about stemness properties and the real value of cancer stem cells. He raised lots of interesting questions and the audience had the chance to interact with one of the international experts in this field.

Reference: Calon A, Espinet E, Palomo-Ponce S, Tauriello DV, Iglesias M, Céspedes MV, Sevillano M, Nadal C, Jung P, Zhang XH, Byrom D, Riera A, Rossell D, Mangues R, Massagué J, Sancho E, Batlle E. Dependency of colorectal cancer on a TGF-ß-driven program in stromal cells for metastasis initiation. Cancer Cell. 2012 Nov 13;22(5):571-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2012.08.013.