Congratulations to Rafael Maciel Ioris for an excellent thesis defence!
This past Tuesday, 20th of November 2018 Rafael Maciel Ioris successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled “Effects of Physiological Overexpression of SIRT6 in Metabolism and Cancer”, which he was awarded with High Distinction, the highest possible honour.
Rafael joined the laboratory of Professor Roberto Coppari in October 2014, where he pursued his studies centred on a protein called Sirtuin6 (SIRT6), a protein famous for its effects of prolonging lifespan in mice, but whose precise physiological functions are still unclear. Rafael first actively participated in an ongoing study in the lab aimed at deciphering whether SIRT6 could improve metabolism in diabetic mice. Indeed, the team found that overexpression of SIRT6 improved insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis in diabetic mice, indicating that SIRT6 may be a novel therapeutic target for managing type 2 diabetes. Rafael’s efforts earned him authorship in this study, published in Molecular Metabolism, only a year after he began his studies. Thereafter, Rafael focused his attention on investigating whether SIRT6 overexpression could be beneficial for cancer treatment. Using both in vitro assays and cell lines as well as mouse cancer models, Rafael found that the growth of certain types of cancer, notably those dependent on the activation of the PI3K pathway, was indeed inhibited by SIRT6 overexpression. These intriguing findings showing that SIRT6 may also represent a novel target for cancer therapy were published recently in Cell Reports. Finally, Rafael participated in other collaborations leading to his authorship in an additional publication in Nature Communications.
In addition, Rafael is currently leading a project focused on a selective and relevant anti-cancer target. It is related to a “chaperone” protein, responsible for helping other proteins fold properly or maintain their proper shape. This protein is expressed normally only at embryonic and developmental stages and not in adult tissues, but it is re-expressed by tumors, which means it could be highly specific for cancer cells. His ongoing studies indicate the exciting finding that the inhibition of this chaperone leads to regression of tumors, in mouse models, without side effects, making this a very promising avenue for novel cancer therapies.
In the future Rafael plans to continue post-doctoral studies centred on cancer research.
Posted by: P. Nunes-Hasler
Wishing Rafael all the best in his future endeavors!November 23, 2018