Led by Dr Matt Smalley, this research group is trying to understand why tumours which originate in a single tissue, such as the breast, can have very different appearances in biology and behaviour.
Differences between tumours originating in a single tissue, tumour heterogeneity, are responsible for the variable response of tumours to treatment. Understanding the cell and molecular basis of tumour heterogeneity will not only enable a better understanding of why tumours respond (or do not respond) to therapy but will also enable the identification of specific treatments appropriate to specific tumour subtypes.
Using advanced genetically engineered mouse tumour models, mainly of breast cancer but also of intestinal, prostate and ovarian cancer, the Smalley lab drives different tumour-initiating molecular changes in different cell types within a tissue to understand the biology and response to therapy of the different tumours that develop. The Smalley lab is also using the understanding of the molecular drivers of different tumour types to develop novel therapeutic approaches against them.