Damon Runyon Researchers

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Benjamin L. Martin, PhD

Metastasis, when tumor cells spread to distant organs and form secondary tumors, is one of the most deadly aspects of cancer but is not well understood. Drs. Martin and Matus are focusing on this process to understand how cancer cells break free from tumors to move through the body. Their collaborative project is founded upon an experimental observation made by Dr. Matus in the model roundworm, C. elegans, that a cell cannot simultaneously invade and divide. Using two model systems, C. elegans and the zebrafish, D. rerio, they have gained a better mechanistic understanding of how cell cycle arrest increases the invasive capacity of individual cells during metastasis, including extravasation, the ability to exit blood vessels into the surrounding tissue. They have developed a biosensor that allows the quantification of cells at different stages of the cell cycle and specialized light sheet microscopes to visualize invasive cancer cell behavior at high resolution, in real time. Insights from their work may aid in the design of therapeutics to eradicate metastatic cells that escape traditional chemotherapeutic agents which only target actively dividing cells.

Project title: "Cell cycle regulation of cellular behaviors associated with cancer metastasis"
Institution: Stony Brook University
Award Program: Innovator
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Proliferation/Cell Cycle