Identifying drivers of treatment resistance in metastatic colorectal cancer

Characterising mechanisms that drive drug tolerance and treatment resistance in colorectal cancer metastases.

This project aims to identify which metastatic tumour cells drive treatment resistance and/or post-treatment regrowth and to characterise the mechanisms that underlie this ability.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common and lethal tumour types worldwide. A patient with metastatic CRC only has a 12% chance of surviving for 5 years, and each year metastatic progression leads to a fatal outcome for over 700,000 patients globally. The ultimate cause of patient fatality is metastases forming in vital organs, such as the liver.

Current therapies are often unsuccessful against metastatic tumours, which frequently recur after treatment cessation. The ability to prevent post-treatment recurrence would therefore dramatically improve patient survival. A key roadblock to achieve this goal resides in our poor understanding of intra-metastatic heterogeneity and of the different pathways that metastatic cells can use to resist treatment.

Professor Fred Hollande and team have developed biological and technological tools to enable this work, with access to freshly-resected liver metastasis samples and the use of ex-vivo (tumour organoids) and in vivo (orthotopic xenograft) preclinical models.

Their cutting-edge optical barcoding technique enables tracking of multiple tumour cell subclones over time and the purification of cell subsets that display differential behaviours in response to treatment, allowing for the analysis of both non-genetic and genetically-driven resistance mechanisms.

  • Partnership opportunities

    This program of research offers a platform for the discovery of new compounds demonstrating efficacy in metastatic samples, and enabling the prediction of resistance mechanisms in compounds under development in the industry, allowing the rational design of combination therapies to circumvent this resistance process.

    Get in touch to discuss opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

  • Research details

    Principal investigators

    Professor Frederic Hollande
    Professor Alexander Heriot – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
    Professor Alain Puisieux – Institut Curie, Paris
    Professor Patrick Mehlen – Cancer Research Center of Lyon (CRCL), Lyon

    Research partners

    Cancer Research Centre of Lyon, France

    Research Support

    University of Melbourne
    Philanthropic donors


    Professor Frederic Hollande

Frederic Hollande group

Professor Frederic Hollande's Tumour Heterogeneity in Metastatic Cancer lab

Working to understand the mechanisms that underlie the genetic and non-genetic heterogeneity within individual tumours, and characterise the role it plays on metastatic progression and treatment response.

Visit the group page

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