Our laboratory is interested in the ways in which cancers modify their surroundings to help them survive, grow and spread. The spreading of cancer cells from a primary site at which they arise to a secondary site (often a different organ) is the main cause of cancer-related death. As cancers move from harmless or benign forms to the more dangerous metastatic forms capable of spreading, the environment surrounding the cancer cells changes. Non-cancerous cells and the structures that act as a scaffold for the cancers in this environment begin to behave abnormally. These changes promote invasiveness, causing the cancers to spread. We have discovered that a protein called ROCK that is present at very high levels in many cancers is important in regulating these changes in the cancer environment and are trying to discover how it works and whether it can be targeted as a cancer therapy.
To support research in the Tumor Microenvironment Laboratory, please contact the Royal Adelaide Hospital Research Fund.