Close up of researcher working with samples in a lab

Research projects

The role of the self-eating receptor p62 in stopping cancer spreading

Professor Stefano Santaguida
Project period
Jul 2024 - Jun 2026
Research Institute
European Institute of Oncology
Cancer types
General cancer research
Award amount

Project aim

Professor Santaguida and his team want to understand the role of a protein called p62 in cancer spreading. They aim to use this as a novel way to predict which tumours can spread to other parts of the body and discover a way to stop this from happening.

Hope for the future

Metastasis, when cancer cells spread to different organs, is responsible for most cancer deaths. Finding new ways to detect and stop metastasis would help cancer patients around the world.

Professor Santaguida and his team have the idea that targeting a particular protein – called p62 – might be a way to stop cancer spreading. With Curestarter support they will be exploring whether p62 can be used to predict which tumours can spread to other parts of the body. They hope that by adjusting the amount of p62 present within cells, they will be able to decrease the ability of cancer to spread.


headshot of Prof Stefano Santaguida

Meet the scientist

Outside the lab, Professor Santaguida enjoys outdoor activities, reading, and spending time with friends. He is the father of two little girls and cherishes moments with his family. Additionally, he finds joy in traveling and exploring new cultures.

The science

Inside your cells is a very important structure called the nucleus, which carries your DNA and genetic material. When things go wrong during cell division sometimes a dysfunctional ‘micronucleus’ can occur. It has been shown that there is a link between the presence of these dysfunctional micronuclei, instability in genetic materials and cancer development.

Autophagy is a process known as ‘self-eating’ that allows cells to recycle damaged components and defected structures that could cause harm to your cells and body. p62, a protein pivotal in autophagy regulation, has been identified by Professor Santaguida as a key player in micronuclei acquiring harmful traits, potentially fueling metastasis. His research team is committed to unraveling the intricate role of p62 in this process and its connection to tumours spreading.

The research team hope that they can use p62 as an indicator to predict which tumours have the ability to spread. They also hope that by regulating the amount of P62 within a cell, they can create an innovative way to stop cancer from spreading.

headshot of Prof Stefano Santaguida Professor Stefano Santaguida
This funding will be crucial in supporting our work and our team. The results obtained through this project could significantly impact our understanding of cancer metastasis.

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