The main research interest of the laboratory is the study of tumor-host interactions. There is growing evidence that the normal tissue co-opted and modified by the growing tumor, provide essential cues to tumor maintenance, dormancy, growth, invasion and metastasis. We are particularly interested in understanding how the growing tumor modify normal tissue to its advantage, how this modify tissue contribute to tumorigenesis and how therapeutic interventions modify this cross-talk, and what are the consequences. More specifically we are investigating three aspects of tumor - host interaction:
- Tumor microenvironment: How do cells of the microenvironment, in particular bone marrow-derived cells, promote tumor growth and metastasis? How do therapeutic interventions modify the tumor microenvironment and how do these modifications impact tumor behavior?
- Tumor angiogenesis: how does tumor angiogenesis modulate tumor dormancy, tumor growth and metastasis? How can we therapeutically exploit this tumor cell - endothelial cell interaction?
- Mechanisms of tumor progression: How does the cross-talk between tumor cells and the microenvironment evolve during tumor progression?
- Understanding signalling pathways controlling inflammatory cell functions: Identification of the key signalling proteins controlling the functions of inflammatory cells is of paramount significance in understanding deregulation of inflammatory cell functions and in treatment design. Detection of proteins from clinical specimen requires highly sensitive technologies such as RPP (Reverse Phase Protein) arrays and label free detection tools based on nanotechnologies. Using these approaches we focus on functional and biochemical characterization of inflammatory cells in tumor angiogenesis and immune response.
While most studies are based on in vivo experimental cancer models, and in vitro cell and molecular biology experiments, we are collaborating with a number of clinical units, departments and centers, nationally and internationally, to translate results issued from experimental projects into the clinic, and, conversely, to address questions of immediate clinical relevance in experimental models.