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Research interests

The research focus of the laboratory is on interactions between tumor cells and tumor microenvironmental factors, such as components of the extracellular matrix, cytokines and immunocytes, and the involvement of such interactions in tumor progression and metastasis formation.

Specific topics

  • The interactions of melanoma and neuroblastoma cells with the metastatic microenvironment

  • Molecular signatures of melanoma brain metastasis and of neuroblastoma lung metastasis

  • Targeting the interactions of the tumor and its microenvironment to limit tumor progression​

General concept

Tumor microenviroment.jpeg

During tumor progression, the microenvironment of distant organs can inhibit or promote metastatic cancer growth depending on cellular and molecular composition. Upon initial arrival at distant sites, cancer cells may be suppressed and restrained by inhibitory microenvironmental factors. For example, initially, resident fibroblasts inhibit cancer cell proliferation contributing to cancer cell elimination. Significant microenvironmental alterations can be induced by cancer cells to form a receptive and supportive microenvironment to enhance cancer progression and metastasis. The interactions between cancer cells with the metastatic microenvironment will determine whether these metastasizing cancer cells remain dormant or progress towards frank metastasis. 


A suggested model for the influence of the metastatic microenvironment on cancer progression. During tumor progression, cancer cells detach from the primary tumor and metastasize to distant organs. Once lodged in a secondary organ, the interactions with the metastatic microenvironments will determine whether these metastasizing cancer cells remain dormant or progress towards frank metastasis.

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