Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program
The mission of the Solid Tumor Therapeutics program is the development of novel therapeutics and diagnostic tools based on insights into the basic mechanisms that control the growth and drug sensitivity of tumors, how they interact and invade into adjacent tissues, and how they metastasize to distant sites. The strategy for executing this mission involves a spectrum of basic, translation and clinical research efforts directed toward: 1) the identification of susceptible molecular targets, and validation of their importance to tumor growth, invasion and metastasis; 2) the identification and preclinical testing of potential new drugs and the diagnostics that can guide their use; and, 3) the clinical testing of new drugs, diagnostics and therapeutic strategies.
Research of program members is focused in 5 thematic areas: (1) Angiogenesis; (2) Metastasis; (3) Inflammation and Cancer; (4) Tumor Imaging; (5) Drug Discovery, Development, Targeting and Testing.
Tumor growth depends on angiogenesis. There is a major effort underway to understand how tumor angiogenesis is regulated and to discover and develop novel drugs that interfere with this process. This effort has already resulted in the discovery of several drugs and their introduction into early and subsequently late stage clinical trials.
Drugs that have the potential to inhibit the metastatic process are of great interest as potential cancer therapeutics. It is often the metastatic disease rather than the primary tumor mass that is the lethal component of the tumor.
Inflammation and Cancer
Approximately 15-20% of human cancers are associated with chronic infection and inflammation. A notable example of inflammation-linked cancers include hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, and gastric cancer, for which the major risk factor is infection.
This thematic group is comprised of chemists, biochemists, cell biologists, optical and imaging scientists, and surgeons who collaborate with electrical and biomedical engineers and material scientists to image the structure and function of tumors from the microscopic to the macroscopic level, both in vitro and in vivo using cellular and molecular imaging paradigms.
Drug Discovery, Development, Targeting and Testing
Investigators within this thematic area are discovering or synthesizing new drugs, moving these through preclinical testing, developing strategies for selectively directing them to the tumor, and conducting early phase clinical trials of novel therapeutics.