Double Hit: ’Aegean Conference Travel Award’ and ’EACR Bursary Award’ for young MedUni Vienna scientist

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Ines Garces de los Fayos Alonso, PhD candidate at MedUni Vienna’s Department of Pathology, has received awards for her work at two international conferences. As part of the "4. International Conference on Cytokine Signaling in Cancer- on the Greek island of Crete, she received one of the coveted -Aegean Conference Travel Awards- for outstanding research work in the field of cancer research. The young researcher from MedUni Vienna also received a Bursary Award at the 28th Congress of the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) in Seville.

Ines Garces de los Fayos Alonso impressed the juries of both conferences with her scientific paper "PDGFR? Drives Progression by Oncogene Transcription through STAT3/STAT5 Hyperactivation in Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma". ALCL, commonly driven by translocations involving the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) oncogene, is an aggressive Non-Hodgkin T-cell Lymphoma that occurs primarily in children and young adults. Event Free Survival rates for ALK+ ALCL patients treated with standard chemotherapy are relatively successful. However, current relapse rates range from 20-40%, highlighting the urgency to develop alternative therapy approaches for refractory patients. Previous findings identified inhibition of PDGFRb via Imatinib (Gleevec) resulted in sustained remission, however the underlying mechanisms of action remained elusive. In this study, which is currently being summarized in a publication, Garces de los Fayos Alonso et al., demonstrate that PDGFR? signals preferentially upstream of the Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 5 (STAT5). This signalling axis acts as a double-edged sword, giving malignant cells a selective advantage increasing their carcinogenic potential yet simultaneously providing an alternative pathway for pharmacological inhibition.

About Ines Garces de los Fayos Alonso Ines Garces de los Fayos Alonso acquired the theoretical fundamentals of Biomedicine during her Bachelor’s degree (B.Sc) and research-based Master’s degree (M.Res) at Durham University in the UK. In 2016, she was one of 15 students selected to participate in the EU Horizon 2020 research initiative for ALK-Associated Malignancies (ALKATRAS), a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network. She joined the group of Prof. Lukas Kenner (Department of Pathology at MedUni Vienna and Institute of Laboratory Animal Pathology at Vetmeduni Vienna), where makes use of a variety of transgenic mouse models to study the signalling pathways activated by potent oncogenic proteins driving disease progression in vivo.