Benoit, a pharmacist holding a master’s degree in pharmacokinetics from Aix-Marseille University, is currently pursuing a PhD in Translational Medicine at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. His research, conducted under the supervision of Professor Elisa Giovannetti at Fondazione Pisana per la Scienza, focuses on gaining new insights into the biology of extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).
PDAC is a lethal malignancy with a poor 5-year overall survival rate and an increasing incidence worldwide. The main features underlying PDAC lethality include the lack of efficient early-diagnostic techniques and aggressive metastatic behavior. Recent studies underlined the key role of EVs in cell-to-cell communication and conditioning of pre-metastatic niches. These pre-metastatic niches constitute specific microenvironments that favour cancer cell colonization of distant organs. In addition, preclinical and emerging clinical evidence has revealed that the examination of EVs content can serve as a valuable approach to improve the early detection of PDAC.
Benoit works on a project that aims to provide new insights into PDAC-derived-EVs biology to identify potential biomarkers and targets in PDAC. RNA sequencing and proteomics will be performed on EVs isolated from patients with different stages of lesions. Bioinformatic tools and functional studies will then be used to identify molecular mechanisms underlying PDAC progression and innovative biomarker candidates. In parallel, the specific role of PDAC-derived EVs on liver colonization will be assessed through the implementation of an ex vivo organotypic liver slice culture system.
Ultimately, the work of Benoit aims to improve early detection of PDAC and contribute to a better understanding of EVs biology in this lethal malignancy.