Dr. Fatima Mechta-Grigoriou, winner of the Duquesne award 2023
© Institut Curie / Thibaut VOISIN
Fibroblasts are support cells that build and maintain our body’s structure by producing materials surrounding our cells. However, their functions can be diverted by cancer cells, thus boosting tumor growth. They are known as Cancer Associated Fibroblasts (CAF).
Recent work by Dr. Fatima Mechta-Grigoriou, Deputy Director of the Cancer, Heterogeneity, Instability and Plasticity unit – CHIP (Inserm U830) and head of the Stress and Cancer team (Inserm U830), has revealed the pro-metastatic role of two specific CAF populations, as well as the involvement of one of them in immuno-suppression, namely the decreased response of the immune system. This response is also heterogenous itself, made up of different sub-groups, and the abundance of certain specific clusters of these fibroblasts is associated with resistance to immunotherapy, since they inhibit the defensive actions of immune cells, thus making the treatment ineffective.
Her work also earned her the Prix René et Andrée Duquense, with an award of 75,000 euros, which she received on Monday September 18, 2023.
Winning this award will enable us to develop new projects in order to understand the molecular mechanisms that cause these CAF and the impact of treatments on these different populations, to better understand their plasticity and their involvement in resistance to treatment
Explains Dr. Fatima Mechta-Grigoriou.
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In her will, Madame Andrée Duquesne named the Paris committee of La Ligue Contre le Cancer and Institut Pasteur as her joint sole legatees. According to the terms of her will, her entire fortune is invested such that the interest earned finances the annual research awards given each year to researchers selected by her two legatees.
And so each year since 2008, the Prix René et Andrée Duquesne is given to researchers and research teams that have made major or particularly promising breakthroughs in oncology.
Prof. Alain Puisieux, Director of Institut Curie Research Center, also won the Prix René et Andrée Duquesne in 2019 for his pioneering work in understanding the plasticity mechanisms of cancer cells, and their consequences during the early phases of tumorigenesis and metastatic spread.