Advanced prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in males. Generally, the cause of death in these patients is the onset of metastases, against which treatments tend not to be very effective.
Understanding the mechanisms of metastasis, however, is complex. The tumours are not homogeneous, not all tumour cells are the same, they have undergone multiple changes and the sequence of processes that causes abnormal cells to metastasize is unclear.
Dr Mendizábal uses an entirely new approach to understand this process. With access to a vast amount of information on localized and metastatic tumours, she will use computational techniques to trace the progression of tumour cells to metastatic cells, until the original causes that lead to the tumour spreading have been understood. The benefits of this knowledge are huge: with this knowledge, it will be possible to determine early on which patients are at the greatest risk of developing metastases and to treat them appropriately. Furthermore, targeted therapies can be designed to counter the specific mechanisms that cause tumours to start to metastasize.