The metastatic spread of cancer occurs through the generation and hematogenous dissemination of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). A better understanding of the key biological processes that lead to the formation and activity of CTCs can be transformative, potentially leading to the design of new therapies that interfere with the spread of cancer. Prof. Aceto's laboratory at ETH Zurich combines molecular biology and engineering to interrogate CTCs and identify their vulnerabilities. The next ambitious step will be to exploit recent findings to develop a new class of cancer therapies.
Nicola Aceto is Professor of Molecular Oncology at the ETH Zurich. Previously, he has been Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor of Oncology at the University of Basel. Recent discoveries of the Aceto lab include important insights into the metastatic process, namely investigations of the biology and vulnerabilities of circulating tumor cells, some of which already translated in clinical trials for patients with metastatic breast cancer. Previously, Nicola worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Haber lab at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, MA, USA, where he identified circulating tumor cell clusters as metastatic precursors. He received a PhD summa cum laude from the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI) in Basel, Switzerland with a thesis on protein tyrosine phosphatases and their role in breast cancer. Nicola received several awards related to his work on circulating tumor cells, including the highly prestigious Swiss Science Prize Latsis for groundbreaking cancer research (2021) as well as the Friedrich Miescher Award for Outstanding Achievements in Biochemistry (2020).