Arnaud Blomme appointed FNRS Research associate at University of Liège



Arnaud Blomme, Doctor of biomedical sciences and researcher in the GIGA Stem Cells laboratory (GIGA/Faculty of Medicine) at the University of Liège, has been awarded a Research associate  mandate by the FNRS (the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research) to continue his research. His thematic focuses on the identification and characterization of the molecular mechanisms that support tumor-associated metabolic reprogramming, with the long-term goal of developing innovative anticancer strategies.

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ver the last decades, the identification of the genetic alterations that drive the formation of numerous tumor types has paved the way for the development of new drugs which specifically attack cancer cells, leading to the development of personalized therapies and resulting in significant improvement in patient outcome. However, tumor development also involves a series of non-genetic mechanisms that allow cancer cells to evolve and escape therapies. For instance, the ability of cancer cells to reprogram their metabolism and adapt to their environment appears as a key mechanism for the development of aggressive tumors, supporting both metastases formation and treatment resistance. Indeed, during tumor progression, cancer cells are subjected to numerous types of stress, such as physical limitations (uncontrolled cell proliferation, resistance to anti-cancer treatments), hostile environments (formation of metastases and colonisation of new organs) or metabolic constraints (limited availability of essential nutrients and oxygen). As a result, cancer cells are forced to constantly adapt to unfavorable situations.

"My research project aims at identifying and characterizing the molecular mechanisms that support the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells in order to highlight metabolic vulnerabilities that could be exploited to design innovative therapeutic strategies. In particular, I will assess the impact of dysregulated mRNA translation, another biological process that is strongly increased during tumor development, on the reprogramming of tumor metabolism in the context of lung cancer. To achieve this goal, Arnaud Blomme has focused his efforts on two aspects that he considers essential to the successful completion of this project: on the one hand, the development of innovative preclinical models, which ensure a better modelling and therefore a better understanding of the disease; and on the other, the use of unbiased approaches, supported by the rapid development of cutting-edge technologies, which will allow him to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer progression. "For the latter, I have assembled a strong network of international experts who, through numerous scientific collaborations, will help us completing this ambitious project".

By combining unbiased approaches with innovative preclinical models and clinical validation on patient biopsies, the research team in which Arnaud Blomme is involved has already been able to demonstrate that aggressive subtypes of lung cancer cells are highly dependent on certain source of nutrients, such as specific lipid classes, for their survival. "Interestingly, we have also observed that this metabolic reprogramming comes at a high cost for the cancer cell. Therefore, it creates 'nutritional dependencies' that we can exploit to design anti-cancer therapies and impact on tumor burden". Ultimately, the project developed by Arnaud Blomme will highlight new metabolic vulnerabilities associated with aggressive lung tumors and will identify new therapeutic targets. "This, I hope, will contribute to the development of innovative anti-cancer therapies.

About Arnaud Blomme

Arnaud Blomme holds a Master's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Faculty of Science at the University of Liège. He completed his doctoral studies in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the GIGA Cancer Research Centre in the ULiège Faculty of Medicine. Following his PhD thesis on the identification and characterization of novel breast cancer accessible biomarkers, Arnaud Blomme left Belgium for Scotland to perform a postdoctoral stay at the CRUK Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow. He returned to the University of Liège in 2020 and joined the GIGA Stem Cells as a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow (Arnaud Blomme gets a Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship for his TransMetTOR project) and developed a new line of research to study cancer cell metabolism in lung cancer.

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Arnaud Blomme

© Photo : ULiège - B.Bouckaert

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