Actualité - Innovation

Giorgio Seano at the top of the European science

Alizée Lacroix
Giorgio Seano, a researcher in Institut Curie, has just been awarded with an ERC (European Research Council) Starting grant. This recognition, sometimes referred as the Holy Grail for researchers, will enable him to set up his team that studies the resistance mechanisms to treatment in brain tumors.
Giorgio Seano, chercheur à l'Institut Curie, récompensé de l'ERC Starting grant

Founded in 2007, the ERC funds the very best scientific projects at a pan-European level. Awarded annually, the ERC grants are currently considered as a significant Europe-wide recognition of excellence in the higher education and research.

The 38th ERC Grant for Institut Curie

Since its creation, 38 ERC grants have already been awarded to Institut Curie’s researchers across all three categories: Advanced grants for the most experienced researchers, Consolidator grants for those with a few years’ experience, and Starting grants for those who are just setting out on their careers.

The 38th grant rewards the young researcher Giorgio Seano, Head of the brand-new Tumor Microenvironment Lab in Institut Curie (CNRS/INSERM/Université Paris Sud/Institut Curie). His team studies brain cancers: both primary tumors of the central nervous system – such as glioblastoma – and secondary brain metastases that occur from melanoma, lymphoma as well as lung and breast cancers. “Very little improvements have been achieved for these highly deadly tumors throughout the past years, says Giorgio Seano. And a reason for their high rate of recurrence is that brain tumors are intrinsically resistant to therapy – both radio or chemotherapy.”

An european boost to explore brain cancers resistance

Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of this resistance might provide us with key discoveries of new brain tumor vulnerabilities. So the young researcher decided to study the stratagems developed by cancers to evade treatments from a fresh perspective. “During my PhD at Candiolo Cancer Institute in Italy, I extensively investigated the tumor vasculature itself. Anyway, throughout my experience at Harvard Medical School (Boston) in the Lab of Rakesh K. Jain, I understood how - not only the vasculature per se is important during the tumor progression - but also that the microenvironment created by the vessels can be co-opted and modified, thus conveying resistance to therapy. At Harvard Medical School I used state-of-the-art imaging technologies, such as intravital microscopy, to investigate the process of vessel co-option (i.e. when tumor cells use pre-existing vasculature to growth)” explains Giorgio Seano.

At the beginning of 2018, he joined Institut Curie to develop his own research team. “The exceptional basic and translational research here is genuinely interconnected and fosters a synergistic collaborative atmosphere,” stated the young research at his arrival. His team focuses on the understanding of the cellular crosstalk established within the brain tumor perivascular niche. The tumor cells take advantage from these frequent niches to resist to therapy. Giorgio Seano plans to use intravital imaging technologies to dynamically visualize tumor cells in their in vivo microenvironment with single-cell resolution. His hope is to find a way to counteract the effects of the highly vascularized microenvironment of brain tumors. Thanks to the ERC grant, there is no doubt that Giorgio Seano will make new discoveries very soon.