Targeting Mfrn2 to Inhibit Metastatic Cancers

1 June 2023 - 30 November 2024

Diagnosis & treatmentEuropean Research Council (ERC)Horizon Europe2023

The study will investigate SLC function in various types of cancer and evaluate the efficacy of anti-sense oligonucleotides against the transporter and small molecule inhibitors in disease models.

Project description

Metastasis formation is the leading cause of death in cancer patients. Thus, there is an unmet need for  drugs that can prevent and/or treat systemic metastases. We have discovered that breast cancer cells rely  on a solute carrier (SLC) transporter for metastasis formation in lung and liver. Interestingly, systemic  inhibition of this SLC transporter using a therapeutic modality has likely a favorable toxicity profile  because knockout mice are viable and have very few and minor phenotypic changes. Therefore, we hypothesize that targeting the SLC transporter can be exploited to inhibit metastatic growth.

To valorize this SLC transporter as a drug target, we will

  1. Perform a detailed mechanistic analysis of its function  in samples from breast cancer patients;
  2. Define the efficacy profile of the inhibition of this SLC  transporter against systemic metastasis in mouse models;
  3. Translate the SLC transporter inhibition beyond breast cancer;
  4. Determine the efficacy and safety of targeting metastatic patient-derivedxenograft (PDX) with anti-sense oligonucleotides (ASOs) against this SLC transporter;
  5. Delineate a strategy to define small molecule inhibitors against the SLC transporter.

To do so, we will apply multiplex immunohistochemistry in samples from breast cancer patients and perform state-of-the-art  metastasis assays in allograft, xenograft and PDX mouse models. Thus, we will deliver a comprehensive evaluation of the SLC transporter as drug target for treating metastases.

Funding programme & Type of action

Funding programme : Horizon Europe – European Research Grant
Type of action : Proof of Concept Grants
Grant agreement number :


1,5 years

Belgian partners