Complication of metastasis, the process in which cells detach from the primary tumor to form new distant tumor sites, is the primary reason why women die from breast cancer. The metastatic behavior of tumor cells is highly dependent on the cell’s intrinsic characteristics and on the tumor microenvironment, such as stromal cells and the extracellular matrix. We study both by combining conditional mouse models that recapitulate human breast tumors and intravital imaging techniques (high resolution imaging of metastasis in living animals in real time). By these experiments we hope to indentify new drug targets that combined with current clinical approaches may lead to new therapies.
Our lab studies the behavior of metastasizing tumor cells inside living mice by intravital imaging; the imaging of living tissue. Whole mice bearing metastasizing tumors are imaged at subcellular resolution by confocal or two-photon microscopy. Our lab, together with the labs of Drs Segall and Condeelis (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA) has developed a mammary gland imaging window in order to image and track cells for multiple days inside mammary tumors in living mice. Moreover, we use intravital FRET imaging to study activity of several signaling pathways inside metastasizing tumor cells.
allograft tumor models:1) Ola/FVB mice with Kep1_11 cells (Cdh-/-;Trp53-/-, Derksen et al, Canc Cell 2004)2) BalbC with 4T1 cell line. Genetic model:MMTV-Neu tumor model