A408 Magee Women's Hospital
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
My lab is interested in cancer stem cells (CSCs, or tumor-initiating cells, TICs), as well as their interactions with the local microenvironment. The subpopulation of putative TICs responsible for tumor initiation has been identified in hematopoietic and solid cancers. In normal tissues, "the niche", is defined as an environment where stem cells reside (in quiescence) or as necessary to maintain stem cell functional activity (during regenerative cycles or after tissue injury). In tumors, the niche may involve cells derived from the bone marrow, which drive further tumor growth and metastasis. This has been extensively studied since the identification of the TICs. However, the niche environment may also be derived from the TICs, through asymmetric division, which then furthers tumor growth and metastasis. We hypothesize that the TIC-derived "helper" cells may, through crosstalk with the TICs, provide a niche microenvironment that facilitates the initiation, expansion, and even metastasis of the tumors originated from TICs. Targeting not only the TICs, but also these "putative" niche cells, may provide new therapeutic targets for drug development with the goal of both preventing breast cancer and reducing relapse, metastasis.
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