Targeting the causes of metastatic disease

The spread of malignant tumours around the body, termed metastasis, is the principal cause of death in patients with solid tumours.

The Clarkson lab has identified two intra-cellular mechanisms that appear to contribute to this process in models of breast cancer.  Now situated in the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, the research group has focused on identifying strategies to target these molecular mechanisms with the aim of preventing malignant disease progression not only in breast but also in ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers. 

The two mechanisms identified have distinct roles in the dissemination of tumours throughout the body.  One affects the viability and maintenance of cancer stem cells within tumours while the other impinges on the ability of tumour cells to move through tissues.  Ongoing studies are aimed at characterizing these mechanisms in more detail, identifying pharmacological inhibitors of these processes and determining their efficacy in primary tumours obtained from local cancer clinics.