dr. Jesse Demuytere (MD)

CRIG member
Jesse Demuytere

Doctoral fellow - Laboratory of Experimental Surgery - UZ Gent 
Principal Investigator: prof. Wim Ceelen (MD, PhD)


Research focus

Nearly ten percent of patients with colorectal cancer will develop spread of the cancer to the membrane lining their abdomen, called the peritoneum. The cells which make up this peritoneum, mesothelial cells, have been shown to be able to influence cancer progression. Cancer cells can communicate with many types of cells, and influence healthy cells to help cancer cells grow. This leads to the presence of several types of normally healthy cells in a tumour. One of the main components in this tumor microenvironment is the cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF). In the peritoneum, cancer cells influence mesothelial cells to make the peritoneum, which normally defends against cancer spreading, into an environment where cancer cells can grow by transforming mesothelial cells into CAFs.  This process, dubbed mesothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, has not yet been studied in colorectal cancer.

We will utilize novel techniques such as ScRNAseq to accurately define what types of cells are present in the microenvironment of tumours which have spread to the peritoneum. With this new technique, we are able to determine the transcriptome of single cells in the microenvironment. This way, we can determine the functions and origins of components of the microenvironment. 

We will perform subsequent experiments to find out how cancer cells communicate with mesothelial cells, and how mesothelial cells help colorectal cancer grow. Later on, we will try to disrupt this communication utilizing SiRNA and see if this strategy might be useful to develop new treatments for treating or preventing colorectal cancer spreading to the peritoneum. 

Contact & links

  • Lab address: Experimental Surgery Lab, campus UZ Gent, 
    C. Heymanslaan 10, The Core, ingang 37, verdieping 3
  • Jesse Demuytere is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks