Medical Research

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Viviane Tabar
New York, NY
December 2012

Work in this laboratory led to the surprising discovery that a proportion of tumor blood vessels within gliomas are neoplastic in origin (Nature 468:829, 2010). More recently, unpublished data from the same lab shows that under certain conditions glioblastoma cells can transition from epithelial to highly motile and invasive mesenchymal cells. This work opens the door to an entirely new concept in tumor cell biology: that tumors function as a consortium of cell subpopulations capable of switching their fate to different lineages in order to adapt to and modify microenvironmental conditions and stressors. Using a combination of genetic fate mapping, confocal time lapse microphotography, and laser microdissection, the research team aims to capture cells undergoing phenotypic transition into blood vessel or mesenchymal cells in a large set of patient-derived tumors. The cells will be subject to single cell analysis and genomic, transcriptomal, and epigenetic profiling. Efforts will be made to determine the mechanisms underlying lineage reprogramming and to identify molecules that can modulate this process. The team seeks to establish tumor cell plasticity as a fundamental component of cancer and, in doing so, transform our understanding of the cell biology of solid tumors.

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