Young, Jennifer


Exploration of Cancer Cell – Matrix Interactions: Targeting Adhesive Molecules for Preventing Protective Cancer Cell Niches

Cancer cell-ECM interactions have been shown to positively influence cancer cell survival and dissemination into other tissues by guiding invasive migration, as well as enhancing resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. 
This phenomenon, whereby malignant cells acquire resistance to drugs via specific, adhesion-mediated signaling processes, may be a major cause for the common failure of chemotherapy to provide a long-term, complete cure.  Our research aims to inhibit drug resistance via adhesive contacts by identifying protective matrix properties and cellular interactions in a high-throughput manner, perturbing the identified protective interactions in order to convert chemo-resistant cells into chemo-sensitive ones, and finally, evaluating the metastatic role of these identified specific matrix interactions in a unique 3D invasion assay.  Results from these experiments will not only establish targets to prevent metastasis, but also aid in the future establishment of effective combinatorial chemotherapeutic strategies in the clinic.

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