Dr Zoi Diamantopoulou - Metastasis and circadian rhythm


Diamantopoulou headshot 2023 cropped

The recent development of liquid biopsies has opened up new directions for monitoring the progression of cancer and the formation of metastasis, bringing us one step closer to effective personalised therapies. Despite these remarkable breakthroughs, metastasis remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Therefore, it is of great significance to investigate the biology of metastasis and identify the critical steps and factors that need to be targeted in order to successfully develop efficient anti-metastatic treatments.

Our work broadly aims to understand how metastasis is regulated by the circadian rhythm. We particularly focus on a very rare cancer cell population that escapes from the primary tumour and spreads throughout the body via the bloodstream to establish new tumours in different locations, named Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs). We are interested in the circadian rhythm as it has an intriguing role during cancer development and progression. While several studies have shown that the disruption of the circadian rhythm and the resulting misalignment of sleep-wake cycles promote tumour growth, our recent ground-breaking discovery indicates that the metastatic spread of breast cancer occurs during sleep. To further explore how the circadian rhythm drives metastasis, we focus on in vivo mouse models and we employ cutting edge microfluidics and robotic technologies, genetic engineering, next generation sequencing and in vivo imaging systems. We also analyse blood samples from cancer patients to identify circadian rhythm-related molecular vulnerabilities that could be used for the development of novel therapies. Finally, we explore chronotherapy to develop new approaches to drug administration that could be beneficial to cancer patients.