Funded by the KAAB Memorial Foundation and the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund
Cancer kills millions of people every year. The deadliest cancers are those that have high rates of metastasis. Metastasis is the movement of cancer cells from one organ site to another. Many of the current therapies are designed to kill cancer cells from the original tumor but not the secondary tumors that follow. We find genes responsible for normal embryonic development are improperly present in tumors but not in normal adult tissue. Many of these abnormally expressed genes control activities required for successful invasion and migration to distant organ sites. The purpose of the proposed research project is to comprehend how tumors use these embryonic genes to become metastatic and resistant to chemotherapy. This research will ultimately enable researchers to better target these aggressive gene programs, leading to increased patient survival and hopefully eradication of the metastases. My training as a cancer and developmental biologist puts me in a unique position to tackle these difficult questions. The medical community has finally realized that there will not be one treatment for cancer and each tumor is as unique as the individual is. Therefore, we must think outside the box to design therapies that target genes that responsible for growth, resistance to chemotherapy and metastasis. This current project seeks to understand why developmental pathways are re-expressed as well find ways to specifically target these pathways to inhibit metastasis.