Drs. Roskelley, Johnson and Gold Researching Cancer Metastasis

LSI-based principal investigators Dr. Calvin Roskelley (Cell Research Group), Dr. Pauline Johnson (Infection, Inflammation and Immunity Research Group) and Dr. Michael Gold (Inflection, Inflammation and Immunity and Cell Research Groups) are using their recent CIHR funding to work on a research project called “The Role of Hyaluronan In Priming The Inflammatory Micrometastatic Niche.”

Metastasis is the primary cause of death due to cancer. It is the process by which tumor cells leave the orignal tumor and travel to distant organs where they form new, most often life threatening tumours. It is now clear that inflammation at the distant site contributes to the formation of a spatially defined ‘niche’ that facilitates the initial formation of micrometastic lesions that have the potential to expand and become lethal. We have shown that an extracellular matrix component, hyaluronan, accumulates at these sites. In this project we will determine if hyaluronan is functionally important for niche formation and if blocking the interaction between hyaluronan and tumor cells inhibits micrometastatic lesion formation. Therefore, this project will lay the groundwork for developing a new, non-toxic therapeutic strategy for inhibiting the formation of lethal metastatic lesions.

“This CIHR project grant will make it possible for a multidisciplinary LSI team from the Roskelley, Johnson and Gold laboratories to identify novel therapeutic targets that, when interrupted, have the potential to block the spread of metastatic tumours that is aided by inflammation,” stated Roskelley.

Image (above left): Melanoma cells that have exited the vasculature become surrounded by the extracellular matrix molecule hyaluronan and start to proliferate to form a small micrometastic lesion in inflamed lungs.

Photos below: Dr. Calvin Roskelley (Left), Dr. Pauline Johnson (Centre) and Dr. Michael Gold (Right)