August 2017 - Present
Pancreatic cancer has an abysmal clinical outcome due to low early detection rates, ineffective treatments, and a highly supportive surrounding environment for tumor growth. Blanket removal of the microenvironment (or stroma), however, is also problematic as this too can lead to unrestrained tumor growth. This suggests that the stroma has both tumor supporting and tumor restricting properties. What causes the stroma to act in a tumor supportive versus restrictive manner remains currently unknown. However, if we are able to harness only the natural tumor restrictive properties of pancreatic cancer’s stroma, the outcome of this disease may drastically improve.
As such, the goals for my project are three-fold. 1) To reveal the driving factor(s) promoting pancreatic cancer’s stroma’s tumor supportive nature. 2) To evaluate the consequences these factor(s) have on tumor development and progression. And 3) to understand the finer details of the underlying biology with the purpose of discovering future druggable targets.
Gardiner, J.C., Raghavan, K., Alexander, J.I., Franco-Barraza, J., Cukierman, E. 2019. ‘Fibroblastic Cell-Derived Extracellular Matrices: A Cell Culturing System to Model Key Aspects of the Tumor Microenvironment’ in Decellularized Extracellular Matrix: Characterization, Fabrication, and Applications. Royal Society for Chemistry. Pages 305-327.