Sónia Melo

[email protected]

X: @Sonia_A_Melo

linkedin: Sonia Melo

Scopus Author ID: 26027982400

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2291-4263

As a Principal Investigator at i3S, I have led an independent research line since 2015, focusing on exosomes biology, pancreatic cancer, and in vivo models of disease. With a track record of 42 peer-reviewed publications, garnering over 9600 citations, my work has significantly contributed to advance the state of the art.

My training as an EMBO and Human Frontiers Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA, has enriched my expertise. I am proud to have pioneered the characterization of exosomes as biologically active, with seminal contributions to the identification of dsDNA in exosomes. A key aspect of my research has been unveiling the role of cancer exosomes in disease progression, emphasizing their potential as early detection biomarkers in pancreatic cancer and as vehicles for delivery. This has culminated in an ongoing clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03608631) exploring the therapeutic benefit of RNAi delivery by exosomes to pancreatic cancer patients.

One of the major breakthroughs of my group includes describing the intra-tumor communication network (EVNet) in pancreatic cancer (Gut 2022). This network, coordinated by Agrin released in cancer stem cell EVs, has proven crucial. Inhibiting communication by cancer stem cells has been demonstrated to impair tumor growth.

Recent work has focused on unraveling the spatiotemporal biodistribution of CD63+ exosomes (Nature Communications 2024). Utilizing a genetically engineered reporter mouse model developed by our lab, we have shown that communication occurs predominantly locally with cells of the tumor microenvironment, such as cancer-associated fibroblasts, and more distantly with organs like the thymus and kidneys.

In essence, our research has not only expanded the understanding of cancer exosomes but has also paved the way for innovative applications in patient care and therapeutic interventions.