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Metastasis & Invasion

Why we focus on Metastasis & Invasion

Around 90% of cancer deaths are attributable to invasion and metastasis.  Metastasis is the spread of disease from one organ or part to another not directly connected with the primary site; the defining characteristic of a malignant neoplasm. How this spread is achieved is important for understanding neoplastic disease.  Characterisation of the molecules driving tumour dissemination may provide possible ways to block the process while, if secondary deposits continue to express the gene products which facilitated their dissemination, such products could also  serve as potential therapeutic targets.

What we do

  • We investigate epithelial-stromal interactions in  breast cancer.
  • We study adhesion and integrins, specifically αvβ6-mediated carcinoma cell invasion.
  • We investigate angiogenesis and the access of disseminating tumour cells into leaky new blood vessels.
  • We study cell signalling and ligand receptor interactions that modulate invasive and/or metastatic behaviour.
  • In pancreatic cancer, we focus on stellate cell epithelial cell interactions, and the proteomic analysis of primary and secondary deposits.

Key Publications

  • Moore et al. Therapeutic targeting of integrin αvβ6 in breast cancer.  J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014; 106, (8) 
  • Allen et al. Altered microenvironment promotes progression of preinvasive breast cancer: myoepithelial expression of αvβ6 integrin in DCIS identifies high-risk patients and predicts recurrence. Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 20, (2) 344-357.
  • Joffre et al. A direct role for Met endocytosis in tumorigenesis. Nature Cell Biol. 2011; 13: 827-37.
  • Froeling et al. Retinoic acid-induced pancreatic stellate cell quiescence reduces paracrine Wnt-β-Catenin signaling to slow tumor progression. Gastroenterology 2011; 141: 1486-97.
  • Allen et al. Clinical and functional significance of α9β1 integrin expression in breast cancer: a novel cell-surface marker of the basal phenotype that promotes tumour cell invasion. J Pathol 2011; 223: 646-58.
  • Saha et al. High-resolution in vivo imaging of breast cancer by targeting the pro-invasive integrin alphavbeta6. J Pathol 2010; 222: 52-63. 

Who does the research

→ Click here for BCI senior researchers working on metastasis and invasion.

Major Funders

  • Association for International Cancer Research
  • Breast Cancer Campaign
  • British Lung Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • DebRA
  • MRC
  • Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
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