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October 14, 2020

Rita Mendes, a PhD student from iBET/ITQB-NOVA, was recently awarded with the “Best Oral Presentation” prize at the EMBO-FEBS Lecture Course Cancer systems biology: Promises of artificial intelligence.

Rita was one of the three winners in the category “PhD students”, with an oral presentation entitled A precision medicine platform using patient-derived ovarian cancer cell models to predict drug efficacy.

Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of death by cancer in women stressing the urgency to develop effective drugs and therapeutic agents. This research project aims to uncover potential metabolic biomarkers of drug efficacy and resistance to facilitate therapy assignment in clinical settings.

To do that, Rita compares the extracellular metabolome of patient-derived ovarian cancer cell models cultured in the presence and in the absence of therapeutic drugs. These long-term ex vivo culture models preserve both tumor cells and its microenvironmental traits, thus replicating features of the original tumors and allowing the evaluation of sample-specific responses.

In addition, Rita explains that “since our focus is on extracellular metabolites, the patient-derived material can be preserved for long-term experiments, such as drug cycle testing longitudinal analysis”.

Best Oral Presentation Award Certificate – Rita Mendes

The EMBO|FEBS Lecture Course “Cancer systems biology: Promises of artificial intelligence” promotes better integration of computational approaches into biological and clinical labs and to clinics. In 2020, the course was held virtually and was particularly focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) approaches in cancer research and in clinics. 

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