Cell-cell interactions in early carcinogenesis
This research group focuses on the earliest stages of cancer in epithelial tissues.
The group looks at how mutant cells expand to form tumorigenic lesions within an environment of tight growth control and homeostasis, events that are currently poorly understood.
The group's research demonstrates that epithelial cells mutant for oncogenes such as Ras are detected by the normal neighbours through cell-cell interactions, and as a result are extruded from the tissue. The group recently identified differential EphA2 signalling as the mechanism that triggers this process in simple epithelia.
Using pancreatic cancer models, which primarily start when cells acquire Ras mutations, the current goals are to determine whether EphA2-mediated extrusion is indeed occurring during the early stages of cancer and whether this promotes or prevents disease progression.