Focusing on Treating Pediatric Cancers
Our laboratory is interested in how genetic programs governing embryonic development are exploited during cancer initiation and progression. After fertilization, a single cell must coordinate cell proliferation with cell migration and differentiation to produce approximately 100 trillion cells that are arranged in a highly ordered manner to generate the many different organs and tissues of the human body. The genetic and epigenetic programs controlling embryogenesis are often aberrantly activated or re-wired in human cancers to promote uncontrolled proliferation and metastasis.
Research in our laboratory uses a unique combination of developmental biology and cancer biology techniques to identify novel therapeutics that kill cancer cells by targeting “reactivated” embryonic genetic programs. We use a number of methods in the lab to attack this problem, including:
- genomics and epigenetics, as well as
- zebrafish pre-clinical cancer models,
- human cell culture, and
- analysis of clinical sample.
Our laboratory has a focus on treating pediatric cancers, such as neuroblastoma and pediatric brain tumors, due to the known involvement of defective developmental pathways in cancer formation and their highly metastatic behavior.