Research Lab

Human Genetics and Cancer Therapeutics

Human Genetics and Cancer Therapeutics
Research Interests

The major goals of Human Genetics and cancer therapeutics group are the identification and validation of cancer diagnostics biomarkers and the development of novel combinatorial cancer therapies.


For the development of cancer combinatory therapeutics, it is used in vitro 2D (cell monocultures) and 3D (spheroids) cellular models that simulate tumor microenvironment, cancer patient´s derived tumor cells or peripheral blood, or even in vivo models such as chick embryos, zebrafish and murines. Cellular models that mimic drug multiresistance observed in oncological patients were also established.


The identification of novel chemotherapeutic approaches, accomplished by screening of the biological targets of the most promising compounds, occurs with a high interaction with other international research groups.

Research Highlights
The biomarkers identification for cancer diagnostics and screening and validation of drugs for cancer therapeutics

Doxorubicin (Dox) sensitive and resistant colorectal tumor 3D spheroids were used as models to infer the therapeutic potential of Dox therapeutics combined with photothermia induced by gold nanoparticles.


The combination of photothermy and Dox accelerated the disintegration of the 3D structures. It was evaluated the effect of time of exposure to Dox, nanoparticles and irradiation in the efficacy of the combined therapeutic approach. Penetration of Dox into the spheroids is potentiated if preceded by irradiation of nanoparticles. As beta-testers of Lux3FL microscope from Cytosmart, the real-time visualization of the internalization of Dox in 3D spheroids originated an application note. To know more see here.


highlight 2020

Representative Projects

  • “Cytotoxicity and photo-cytotoxicity of nitrosyl ruthenium anticancer drug in aqueous solution or incorporated in a drug delivery system. An innovative purpose for metal based drug”, FAPESP, Alexandra Fernandes (PI-FCT NOVA).
  • “Gold multifunctional nanoparticles for targeting cancer – Cetuximab”, Merck-Serono, Total and Unit funding: €72,000, Alexandra Fernandes (PI).
  • “Validation of the antitumor/antiin ammatory potential of novel plant extracts”, VITROBIO SA, Total and Unit funding: €5,400, Alexandra Fernandes (PI).
  • “RA Detect: One Platform- multiple biomarker detection of rheumatoid arthritis”, EC-H2020, Total Funding: €137,000. Unit Funding: €22,000, Alexandra Fernandes (Collaborator).
  • “Unveiling host speci city and host-pathogen interactions of Streptococcus”, FCT-MCTES, Total funding: €199,000, Unit funding: €99,700. Alexandra Fernandes (Collaborator).

Selected Publications

Rodrigo, AP; Mendes, VM; Manadas, B; Grosso, AR; de Matos, APA; Baptista, PV; Costa, PM; Fernandes, AR. 2021. Specific Antiproliferative Properties of Proteinaceous Toxin Secretions from the Marine Annelid Eulalia sp. onto Ovarian Cancer Cells. Marine Drugs, 19, DOI: 10.3390/md19010031
Roma-Rodrigues, C; Raposo, LR; Valente, R; Fernandes, AR; Baptista, PV. 2021. Combined cancer therapeutics-Tackling the complexity of the tumor microenvironment. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology, DOI: 10.1002/wnan.1704
Beola, L; Asin, L; Roma-Rodrigues, C; Fernandez-Afonso, Y; Fratila, RM; Serantes, D; Ruta, S; Chantrell, RW; Fernandes, AR; Baptista, PV; de la Fuente, JM; Grazu, V; Gutierrez, L. 2020. The Intracellular Number of Magnetic Nanoparticles Modulates the Apoptotic Death Pathway after Magnetic Hyperthermia Treatment. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 12, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c12900
Alves-Barroco, C; Rivas-Garcia, L; Fernandes, AR; Baptista, PV. 2020. Tackling Multidrug Resistance in Streptococci - From Novel Biotherapeutic Strategies to Nanomedicines. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.579916
Alves-Barroco, C; Paquete-Ferreira, J; Santos-Silva, T; Fernandes, AR. 2020. Singularities of Pyogenic Streptococcal Biofilms - From Formation to Health Implication. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.584947