We use advanced experimental models in conjunction with studies on patient derived materials, and clinical intervention studies to investigate the role of stress-related phenomena of the tumor microenvironment, such as hypoxia, acidosis and coagulation activation, as treatment targets and biomarkers of cancer.
Stress factors are early and potent drivers of cancer progression providing a strong selection pressure that is associated with intrinsic resistance to conventional oncological treatments and decreased patient survival. A more detailed understanding of tumor cell adaptive responses is critical for the design of more rational therapeutic strategies of cancer. Our recent findings (e.g. Christianson, et al., PNAS, 2013; Kucharzewska, et al., PNAS, 2013; Menard, et al., Cancer Res., 2016) indicate a novel role of lipoproteins and extracellular vesicles in the communication between cancer cells and stromal cells of the tumor microenvironment.
In ongoing projects, we pursue original ideas of how malignant cells respond to and cope with stress factors with the goal to develop new treatment concepts in the fight against cancer. Our studies are focused on but not limited to glioblastoma (GBM), i.e. primary brain tumors characterized by a chaotic microenvironment and associated treatment resistance. We have recently developed a method for functional mapping of the cancer cell-surface proteome (Bourseau-Guilmain, et al., Nat Comm., 2016) for the identification and targeting of tumor antigens of the treatment-resistant tumor niche. The insights from ongoing studies may fundamentally change the way it is perceived how malignant cells and tumor stromal cells adapt to microenvironmental stress with the potential to provide more rational treatments of GBM and other types of aggressive cancers.