Simon/Tolstonog lab

Treatment strategies for head and neck cancers include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. For many patients, the curative effect of these treatments is limited and recurrence or metastasis may occur. Our laboratory studies the concept of clonal dynamics and applies it to head and neck cancer. This concept assumes that a small number of genetically or epigenetically distinct cancer cell clones are responsible for therapeutic failures leading to local and regional recurrences and metastasis. We are therefore using DNA barcoding coupled with next generation sequencing to explore the clonal dynamics of cancer cells during cancer progression and under treatment pressure. We hypothesize that primary resistance in patients is dependent on dominant clones refractory to treatment. In addition, we are testing whether cancer recurrences could be caused by residual cancer cells undergoing neutral or competitive selective pressure. ...

Research projects

Elevating Precision: Innovating Intraoperative Analysis for Head and Neck Cancer Surgery

Lymph node metastases and inadequate surgical margins have a profound impact on the survival of head and neck cancer patients. In a collaborative study, our goal is to develop and evaluate an ultra-thin endoscopic system for the real-time analysis of surgical margins and lymph nodes during head and neck cancer surgery. The ultimate purpose of this project is to enhance treatment success through the intraoperative application of a novel, minimally invasive endoscope.

Unlocking Treatment Resistance: Decoding Clonal Dynamics in Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer is associated with a high rate of relapses caused by the failures of current standard-of-care therapies, consequently resulting in a very poor prognosis for patients. To investigate the mechanisms underlying treatment failures, we have developed an innovative strategy for tracking cancer cell clones in preclinical, surgical mouse models of head and neck cancer. Our project aims to reconstruct the clonal dynamics and evolution of head and neck cancer following treatment, while also discovering the mechanisms that play a pivotal role in treatment resistance.

Advancing Detection: Unveiling Micrometastases in Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer primarily advances through the dissemination of cancer cells to the lymph nodes in the neck, necessitating their surgical removal and/or treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Our aim is to develop technologies for detecting micrometastases in the tumor-draining lymph nodes of head and neck cancer patients. To achieve this objective, we intend to characterize the metastatic lesions, including their microenvironment within lymph nodes, and elucidate the mechanisms governing spatiotemporal lymphatic progression. This interdisciplinary study will provide a solid ground for the development of imaging- and biosensor-based diagnostic tools, enabling rapid and sensitive detection of subclinical lymph node metastases both within and outside the operative room.


Other members

Selected Publications

Prediction of Occult Lymph Node Metastasis in Head and Neck Cancer with CD31 Vessel Quantification.

Mermod M, Bongiovanni M, Petrova T, (...), Simon C, Tolstonog G, Monnier Y

Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery – 2018 Aug 7

Mouse model of postsurgical primary tumor recurrence and regional lymph node metastasis progression in HPV-related head and neck cancer.

Mermod M, Hiou-Feige A, Bovay E, (...), Monnier Y, Tolstonog GV, Simon C

International journal of cancer – 2018 Jan 21

Trends in Surgical Research in Head and Neck Cancer.

Tolstonog G, Simon C

Current treatment options in oncology – 2017 Jun

Extracapsular spread in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Mermod M, Tolstonog G, Simon C, Monnier Y

Oral oncology – 2016 Oct 18

Correlation between podoplanin expression and extracapsular spread in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity using subjective immunoreactivity scores and semiquantitative image analysis.

Mermod M, Bongiovanni M, Petrova TV, (...), Simon C, Tolstonog G, Monnier Y

Head & neck – 2016 Jul 20

Prediction of occult lymph node metastasis in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and the oropharynx using peritumoral Prospero homeobox protein 1 lymphatic nuclear quantification.

Mermod M, Bongiovanni M, Petrova TV, (...), Simon C, Tolstonog G, Monnier Y

Head & neck – 2016 Apr 4

Mutant p53 is a transcriptional co-factor that binds to G-rich regulatory regions of active genes and generates transcriptional plasticity.

Quante T, Otto B, Brázdová M, (...), Kejnovská I, Deppert W, Tolstonog GV

Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) – 2012 Aug 21

Tumorigenic WAP-T mouse mammary carcinoma cells: a model for a self-reproducing homeostatic cancer cell system.

Wegwitz F, Kluth MA, Mänz C, (...), Schumacher U, Deppert W, Tolstonog GV

PloS one – 2010 Aug 11

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