The majority of cancer-related mortality is due to metastasis or the spreading of tumors, a facet of cancer that is difficult to target therapeutically. The Department of Tumor Biology focuses on various aspects of tumor heterogeneity and metastasis, including but not limited to cancer stem cells, tumor microenvironment, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and angiogenesis, as well as invasion and migration of cells.
Recent studies have established that the ability of tumors to progress to a more advanced stage and to metastasize depends not only on individual cancer cells, but also on the tumor microenvironment. The cellular component of the tumor microenvironment is composed of stromal fibroblasts, tumor-associated macrophages and other immune cells, vascular endothelial cells and mesenchymal stem cells. These components can affect the progression and metastasis of cancers through direct cell-cell interactions, paracrine, as well as autocrine mechanisms. In-depth analysis of the molecular mechanisms underlying different steps of tumor metastasis and the elucidation of the contribution of the tumor microenvironment in this process will facilitate the development of novel therapeutics to target metastatic disease.
Department of Tumor Biology faculty members focus on the above aspects with emphasis on the growth, progression, and metastasis of lung, prostate, breast and skin cancers. Research conducted in this department is expected to shed new light into the metastatic process of these cancers and to identify steps that can be effectively targeted therapeutically.
Tumor Biology Department Members
Srikumar Chellappan, PhD