Researchers from The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) are in Denver this week for the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to present findings on the interaction between a tumor cell and its environment, and how manipulation of those surroundings can lead to new targeted cancer therapies. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
The research includes a study focusing on mesenchymal stromal cells, which make up the outer connective tissue of a cancer tumor and have been suggested as a source for other cells that help produce that tissue. These cells, carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), are known to support tumor growth and may cause tumor cells to be drug resistant.
Lead author Pravin Mishra, MS, a research teaching specialist at CINJ, and colleagues focused on the various cell processes that are regulated through a certain sequence of cellular signaling events known as pathways that lead to cell stimulation. These pathways were selected because of how they influence CAFs in the tumor environment. Using breast cancer cells, the team developed a laboratory model that looks at how tumor growth is impacted by certain aspects of its environment. The overall goal is to target these environmental elements in order to disrupt the development of supporting connective tissue, and ultimately slow or halt tumor growth.
The group headed by Debabrata Banerjee, PhD, a scientist at CINJ and associate professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, hopes to apply the model to animal and human study in order to further explore targeted treatments for breast and other cancers. The author team also includes Dr. Banerjee; John W. Glod, MD, PhD, CINJ; Hui Gao, PhD, Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research; and Sonia C. Picinich, PhD, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
The work represented by CINJ members is among the 6,000 abstracts being presented at the gathering, which is featuring more than 17,000 researchers, healthcare professionals, and patient advocates from around the globe. The goal of the annual AACR event is to provide a forum in which the latest in cutting-edge laboratory, clinical and translational research can be shared.