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Holding hands: cell-cell junctions in breast cancer metastasis and resistance to therapy

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 HOLDING-HANDS project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the HOLDING-HANDS project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "HOLDING-HANDS" about.

unequivocally    cross    primary    junctions    site    disease    patient    actively    deposits    tjp2    patients    predominant    options    breast    desmosome    cellular    vivo    therapeutic    cldn3    break    fundamental    ing    form    highlight    blood    unprecedented    therapy    questions    science    tight    prevent    off    targetable    women    ambition    incurable    groupings    clinical    unappreciated    2014    data    al    preliminary    migratory    models    die    largely    dsg2    boundaries    metastasis    single    cells    dominated    therapies    deaths    et    desmosomes    goals    500000    aceto    block    times    samples    shown    tumor    components    critical    types    metastases    metastatic    lesion    notion    cancer    mouse    cell    occurs    basic    worldwide    sites    driving    mechanisms    first    suggest    agents    spread    disseminate    primarily    mechanism    unexpectedly    distant    signaling    junction    symptoms    class    previously    involvement   

Project "HOLDING-HANDS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: PETERSPLATZ 1
city: BASEL
postcode: 4051

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Switzerland [CH]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙744˙921 €
 EC max contribution 1˙744˙921 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-03-01   to  2021-02-28


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITAT BASEL CH (BASEL) coordinator 1˙744˙921.00


 Project objective

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, resulting in as many as 500000 deaths per year worldwide. Patients with breast cancer die unequivocally because of the development of incurable distant metastases and not because of symptoms related to the primary site. Understanding the complex, yet fundamental mechanisms driving breast cancer metastasis is critical to develop therapies tailored to this disease. The current understanding of how metastasis occurs is derived primarily from mouse models and largely dominated by the notion that single migratory cancer cells within the primary tumor can actively disseminate to distant sites and develop as metastatic deposits. Unexpectedly, our very recent study on patient blood samples has shown that cancer cell groupings, held together through strong cell-cell junctions, can break off the primary tumor and form a metastatic lesion up to 50 times more efficiently than single migratory cancer cells (Aceto et al, Cell, 2014). These findings lead to new open questions, yet highlight a previously unappreciated and targetable mechanism of cancer dissemination. Our preliminary data suggest that, among all types of cell-cell junctions, desmosomes and tight junctions are involved in this process, and therefore represent unprecedented options for developing a metastasis-tailored therapy for breast cancer. The two predominant goals of this proposal are: first, to define the role of specific desmosome (DSG2) and tight junction (CLDN3 and TJP2) components in the development of metastasis. Second, to address their involvement in cellular signaling and response to therapy. These studies will not only use our first-of-a-kind in vivo models developed from patients with breast cancer metastases, but also cross the boundaries between basic science and clinical applications. Our research has the long-term ambition to lead to a novel class of therapeutic agents tailored to block cell-cell junctions and prevent metastatic spread of cancer.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Gkountela S, Castro-Giner F, Szczerba BM, Vetter M, Landin J, Scherrer R, Krol I, Scheidmann MC, Beisel C, Stirnimann CU, Kurzeder C, Heinzelmann-Schwarz V, Rochlitz C, Weber WP, Aceto N.
Circulating Tumor Cell Clustering Shapes DNA Methylation to Enable Metastasis Seeding
published pages: , ISSN: 0092-8674, DOI:
Cell 2019-10-08
2019 Szczerba BM, Castro-Giner F, Vetter M, Krol I, Gkountela S, Landin J, Scheidmann MC, Donato C, Scherrer R, Singer J, Beisel C, Kurzeder C, Heinzelmann-Schwarz V, Rochlitz C, Weber WP, Beerenwinkel N, Aceto N.
Neutrophils escort circulating tumour cells to enable cell cycle progression
published pages: , ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI:
Nature 2019-10-08

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