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Distinguished Oncology Scientist: London Regional Cancer Program, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario
Canada Research Chair in Oncology: Canada Research Chairs
Professor of Oncology: University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
London Regional Cancer Program
Cancer Research Laboratory Program
790 Commissioners Rd. E.
Canada N6A 4L6
Cell and molecular biology of metastasis
Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to new sites, is a major factor in preventing successful treatment of cancer. Metastasis can occur after years of dormancy following treatment of a primary cancer. We are using experimental and clinical approaches to study metastasis and tumor dormancy. We have used in vivo videomicroscopy to clarify the steps and molecular mechanisms in metastasis. We have discovered that large numbers of dormant single cells may remain in secondary organs, with the potential to resume growth at later times to form metastases. We also are using in vitro models to study the molecular regulation of tumor dormancy. Our research suggests that new anti-metastatic therapies should be directed against the site-specific growth of cancer cells after they have arrived in the new organ. We are collaborating with Dr. Paula Foster to use novel cellular magnetic resonance imaging approaches to study metastasis and tumor dormancy.
We also are studying how an oncogene-induced, integrin-binding protein called osteopontin (OPN) contributes to the growth and progression of many kinds of tumors, in collaboration with Dr. Alan Tuck. We have shown that OPN can function to promote malignancy of cells in culture, and we are studying how OPN affects tumor growth and progression. We have developed an ELISA that can measure OPN plasma levels in patients. In clinical studies, we have shown that women with metastatic breast cancer, as well as men with castrate resistant prostate cancer, have blood OPN levels that are higher than normal levels, and that OPN tissue levels are higher in many types of tumors than in adjacent normal tissue. Elevated OPN levels are associated with poorer survival. These experimental and clinical studies will clarify the role of OPN functionally in cancer, and its potential role as a prognostic marker in breast, prostate and other cancers.
Also in collaboration with Dr. Tuck, we are studying molecular determinants of early breast cancer progression. Using in vitro and in vivo models, we have identified a series of genes whose expression changes as breast cells progress from atypical ductal hyperplasia, to ductal carcinoma in situ, to invasive mammary carcinoma.
The overall aim of our research is to learn how cancer cells spread, in order that new approaches to prevent, delay or treat development of metastatic disease can be developed.
Goss PE, Chambers AF. Does tumour dormancy offer a therapeutic target? Nature Reviews Cancer 10: 871-877, 2010.
Chambers AF, AC Groom and IC MacDonald. Dissemination and growth of cancer cells in metastatic sites. Nature Reviews Cancer 2: 563-572, 2002.
Dr. Tuck is a pathologist, specializing in breast pathology, whose clinical work is based at London Health Sciences Center and St. Joseph's Health Centre, also affiliated with the London Regional Cancer Program. He is a consultant in breast pathology for SW Ontario. Research interests include the cell and molecular biology of breast cancer, osteopontin, tumor metastasis, and early development of models for studying breast cancer progression. This research is translational in nature, with the goal of developing new tools/targets for the management of patients at different stages of breast cancer.
Paula Foster http://www.robarts.ca/paula-foster
Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario
Dr. Pieter Anborgh
Project: Experimental and clinical studies on the role of osteopontin in cancer
Email Dr. Pieter Anborgh
Hon Sing Leong, PhD
MSc student, Pathology Department
Joint supervisors: Drs. Alan Tuck and Ann Chambers
Project: Molecular regulators of early breast cancer progression
Email Connor MacMillan
PhD student, Medical Biophysics Department
Supervisor: Dr. Dwayne Jackson
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ann Chambers
Project: The role of the sympathetic nervous system on breast cancer progression
Email Phil Medeiros
MSc student, Medical Biophysics Department
Project: Power Doppler ultrasound and angiogenesis
Email: Matthew Lowerison
Muriel Brackstone, MD
PhD student, Pathology (part-time)
Project: Concurrent neoadjuvant chemo/radiation for locally advanced breast cancer – understanding and predicting treatment resistance.
Email: Dr. Muriel Brackstone
David Dales, BSc (Honours Genetics), Senior Research Technician
Specialty: Molecular and cellular biology and overall laboratory management
Email David Dales
Nicole Hague, BSc, RVT
Specialty: Veterinary technician
Email Nicole Hague
Carl Postenka, BSc, M.L.T., Histology Research Technician
Specialty: Animal handling and all aspects of histology
Email Carl Postenka
Joseph Andrews, Bsc, MSc, Research Technician
Specialty: Microarray technology, molecular biology; methylation studies (with Dr. David Rodenhiser)
Email Joseph Andrews