Team members

Neural plasticity in cancer development

We aim to understand how the nervous system innervates cancerous tumours in order to regulate their development and progression.

The functioning of the nervous system is based on highly sophisticated neural networks that are formed during fetal life and childhood. During development, neurons emit long cables, called axons, to reach their target cells and establish synaptic contacts. This process is controlled by groups of specialized cells that express guidance signals and direct axons along specific trajectories. The nerve projections thus established are maintained throughout adult life. Far from being static, they retain a degree of plasticity that allows them to reshape themselves according to our experiences or in response to diseases such as cancer. Indeed, malignant tumors are able to stimulate the regrowth of mature axons and thus promote their own innervation. The importance of this phenomenon on the evolution of the disease is only beginning to be understood: the nervous system has a protective or, on the contrary, accelerating effect on tumor development, which depends on both the type of cancer and the biochemical properties of the infiltrated axons. These results raise fundamental questions that we seek to answer:


How do axonal projections remodel as a tumor develops?

How does the combination of chemical and mechanical signals generated by the tumor control axonal growth and plasticity?
How do neurons interact with cells in the tumor microenvironment and contribute to disease progression?

Reconstruction of the innervation of a cancerous lesion in a transgenic mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. The axons of the sympathetic nervous system are shown in red, the interacting surfaces with blood vessels in yellow, and the lumens of epithelial lesions in blue.

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Alumni

They contributed to our research
Anaïs Bellon
INSERM researcher at the Institute of Mediterranean Neurobiology (INMED), France
Marion Benezech-Lapeyre
R&D Technician at Innate Pharma, France
Katja Burk
Group leader at the Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany
Chloé Dominici
Postdoc at the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging (IRCAN), France
Jeremy Guillot
Postdoc at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
Adrien Lucchesi
Biotechnology teacher, France
Jonathan Luchino
Health professional, France
Laura Miranda
R&D Assistant at Innate Pharma, France
Erik Mire
Group leader at the Neuroscience & Mental Health Research Institute, Cardiff University, UK
Thi-Trang Huyen Nguyen
Lecturer at the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi (USTH), Vietnam
Micaela Roque
Maturation Engineer at SATT Aquitaine, France
Theodora Velona
Postdoc at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IMBB), Greece

Funding bodies

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