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Research Focus:

It is becoming increasingly clear that in addition to gene alterations in cancer cells, clinical behavior of malignant tumors is profoundly affected by host environment, including several pathophysiological conditions, such as chronic inflammation, infections, diabetes and obesity.
Our lab is focusing on the pathologic interactions between tumor cells and their microenvironment. Detailed understanding of the molecular events fueling these interactions is necessary for development of effective therapies, as well as for personalization of cancer treatment based on host environment (in addition to tumor genetics).
In particular, we are interested in pursuing the following avenues of investigation:
1. Mechanisms through which chronic inflammation contributes to cancer progression and resistance to therapy:
a) tumor-associated macrophages and their mode of action in malignancy;
b) role of inflammatory microenvironment in conferring aggressiveness and therapy resistance in breast / pancreatic cancer;
c) modulation of clinical behavior of the tumor by chronic infection (head&neck cancer, pancreatic carcinoma).
2. Complex relationships between heparanase enzyme (critical determinant of tumor-host interactions) and heparan sulfate proteoglycans (heparanase substrate and at the same time regulator of its activity), as important biological mechanism of cancer progression.
3. Impact of obesity / diabetes on patho-biologic characteristics of malignant tumors (breast, pancreas), and their response to treatment.
4. Control of tumor-microenvironment crosstalk in hormonally regulated cancers (i.e., breast, prostate).