Tumors do not grow in isolation, but are surrounded by a rich microenvironment that contains blood vessels, fibroblasts, immune cells, and a multitude of other components. Cancer cells can influence their microenvironment through extracellular signaling mechanisms to enable and/or enhance their ability to grow and metastasize, such as through the promotion of angiogenesis and immune tolerance.
Lan Coffman, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, is a medical oncologist and researcher who specializes in ovarian cancer. She is particularly interested in understanding how carcinoma-associated mesenchymal stem cells (CA-MSCs) develop within the tumor microenvironment, and how they act to promote ovarian cancer growth. Recent findings in her laboratory demonstrated that cancer cells are able to transform normal mesenchymal stem cells into CA-MSCs through epigenetic alterations.
To learn more, watch Dr. Coffman discuss her research in the video.