Agnospheres are cultures of cancer stem cells isolated from tissue biopsies from patients with Cancer of Unknown Primary (CUPs). The latter is a lethal malignancy (median survival <1 year), representing approximately the 3% of all cancers, and characterized by metastatic dissemination in the absence of a primary tumor recognizable by a standardized protocol including thorough body imaging and histopathological analysis.
Agnospheres are long-term propagated in culture and, after subcutaneous injection into immunocompromised mice, they display high tumorigenicity and quickly reproduce the clinical presentation of the original tumor, featuring a multi-organ metastatic pattern and poorly differentiated histology.
The goal of the project is to analyse the mutational profile of agnospheres in detail, as to verify its correspondance with that of the original tumors. Genetic information will be exploited to investigate the genetic drivers of the CUP phenotype, in particular the hypermetastatic ability and the differentiative block.