Molecular and Cellular Oncology Laboratory
Estrogen receptor, cell signaling and cancer systems. Expression of the estrogen receptor is frequently observed in clinical breast and ovarian carcinomas suggesting an important role for ER function in cancers from these tissues. This knowledge has lead to the development of drugs that have been utilized in both the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, referred to as endocrine therapy, that block the action of estrogen with its receptor by targeting the ER directly.
Unfortunately, a number of tumors that initially respond to endocrine therapy ultimately progresses to hormone-independence and resistance. Many advanced breast cancers exhibit hormone (estrogen)-independence despite high expression levels of the ER and in these patients ER directed endocrine therapy provides little or no benefit. One of our goals is to elucidate the altered activation of signaling cascades which target estrogen receptor mediating gene expression which ultimately leads to a hormone independent phenotype.
We are collaborating with other laboratories to study natural and artificial phytochemicals as novel anti-estrogenic and anti-resistance agents through coordinate targeting of ER-activity, cell signaling and coactivator function. More recently we have begun to study the role played by microRNAs (miRNA) in estrogen receptor biology and the specific regulation of gene expression by steroid hormone receptors.
The Molecular & Cellular Oncology Lab is committed to understanding breast cancer as a disease, dissecting its mechanisms and finding a cure. We are working towards these ambitious goals by integrating multiple disciplines and diverse directions, as well as, collaborations with leading Scientists within and outside Tulane. The long-term goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms of and identify targeting strategies for cancer progression to a hormone-independent, metastatic and resistant phenotype.
Projects in our laboratory focus on identifying and implicating the specific pathways and genes that control breast and ovarian carcinoma cell tumorigenesis resistance and metastasis. We use a combination of molecular and pharmacologic approaches to disrupt cell signaling pathways controlling cell survival and proliferation in cancer cells.
These in vitro studies are followed by tumor xenograft models using therapeutic approaches in immunocompromised mice. By using a combination of cell culture and pre-clinical models we hope to identify those signaling pathways critical for tumorigenesis and resistance, validate therapeutic targeting of those pathways, and move these finding towards clinical utility.
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