Sonia del Rincón
Dr. Sonia del Rincón received her PhD from McGill University. She then completed her postdoctoral training focused on identifying novel druggable targets in breast cancer at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, California. Dr. del Rincón was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Oncology at McGill University in 2018, and is a Principal Investigator in the Cancer Axis at the Lady Davis Institute-Segal Cancer Centre. Dr. del Rincón’s lab is interested in understanding the role of the Mnk1/2-eIF4E axis in highly metastatic diseases such as postpartum breast cancer and melanoma. Her team has recently shown that the Mnk1 kinase, when aberrantly activated, can cause tumor cells to become invasive and metastatic. The best-studied substrate of Mnk1/2 is the mRNA translation initiation factor eIF4E. Phosphorylation of eIF4E can engender translation of mRNAs that code for proteins with roles in cell survival and invasion.
Dr. del Rincón’s recent research interests are focused on understanding the tumor-extrinsic functions of the Mnk1/2-eIF4E axis in cells of the tumor microenvironment. Our immune systems can recognize and eliminate cancer cells. However, sometimes cancer cells develop modes of hiding from immune system recognition. Dr. del Rincon’s lab predicts that the MNK1/2-eIF4e axis is responsible, at least in part, for blocking the immune systems ability to recognize cancer cells. Her lab employs newly developed inhibitors to block the action of the MNK1/2-eIF4E pathway, and hypothesize that these can restore anti-tumor immune attack. Dr. del Rincón’s lab uses a number of pre-clinical mouse models to study invasive and metastatic disease.
Encouragingly, MNK1/2 have emerged as druggable targets that have entered clinical trials with immunotherapy, thus Dr. del Rincón is confident that the discoveries made in her research program, will be quickly translated to the clinic.