Cancer Biology and Epigenomics
Explaining Stem Cell Research
Embryonic stem cells have the potential to treat or cure a number of diseases – ranging from HIV/AIDS to cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and spinal cord injury. There are also a lot of misconceptions on what these stem cells are, where they come from and how they are used. In this issue, Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, president and scientific director of the Children’s Memorial Research Center, answers frequently asked questions about stem cells. She also makes a strong case for the necessity of public policy and/or public funding to ensure that embryonic stem cell research is done in an ethical manner. (read more)
The scientific objectives of the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics program include identifying genes that contribute to cancer metastasis as well as other related diseases which exhibit similar biological activities. The major goal of this research is to define important structure/function relationships and provide the biological basis for new therapeutic strategies. Recent studies, in collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute at The National Institutes of Health, have generated molecular classification(s) of specific tumors, and have provided new prognostic markers and novel targets for therapeutic intervention. In addition, these studies have identified certain genes that are dysregulated during cancer progression and are also aberrant during development resulting in birth defects. Current research activities focus on elucidating how regulatory molecules and phenotype control genes govern cell-to-cell and cell-to-matrix interactions, epithelial/mesenchymal transitions, and motility. Specific projects include signal transduction events initiated by cell adhesion molecules and growth factors; factors regulating interconversion of the tumor cell phenotype; novel three-dimensional analysis of cellular invasion through extracellular matrices; regulation of matrix metalloproteinases by tumor and stromal cell interactions; tumor angiogenesis and vasculogenesis; and role of the microenvironment in maintaining and inducing an aberrant cellular phenotype.