Micrometastasis and cancer stem cell group

Group Leader:
Jahn M Nesland

Research aims

The Micrometastasis and cancer stem cell group studies various aspects of the metastatic process, with special focus on disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow (DTC), circulating tumor cells in peripheral blood (CTC), cancer stem cells and recently also circulating cell-free tumor DNA (ctDNA). It is expected that DTC/CTC will be useful both as prognostic and predictive indicators for cancer patients, for early prediction of relapse, as tools for monitoring of therapy, and as basis for individually tailored therapy. The clinical relevance of DTC/CTC has been demonstrated in a high number of publications, among them large pooled analyses for early breast cancer. Interventional clinical studies have been initiated during the last years, evaluating therapy choices based on DTC/CTC presence. There is increasing evidence for the cancer stem cell properties of DTC/CTC. The Stem cell laboratory headed by Z. Suo has years of experience in, and infrastructure for, the study of cancer cell stemness regulation, typically influenced by hypoxia and metabolic intermediates. There are novel cancer treatment studies, especially by using gene knockout cell lines and gene knockout animal models for such purposes. Based on these models, novel circulating tumor cell capturing and targeting modalities are in development as well.

Current projects

  • DTC/CTC detection and clinical value, in breast, prostate, colorectal, pancreatic and lung cancer patients(JMN/EB).
  • Molecular characterisation of DTC/CTC (in collaboration with Dept. of Genetics)(HGR/EB).
  • Primary tumor analyses: gene expression by Nanostring nCounter analysis(JMN/HGR/EB).
  • Circulating tumor DNA in blood from breast cancer patients(HGR);.
  • ct-DNA in blood in comparison to genetic analysis of primary tumor (breast cancer). (HGR).
  • Intra-tumoral heterogeneity in breast cancer (analyses by immunofluorescence, FISH and deep-sequencing)(HGR).
  • Mitochondrial function and cell stemness correlation(ZS).
  • Hypoxia and cell stemness of cancer cells(ZS).
  • Sex hormone binding globulin and cancers(ZS).
  • Cytokines and cancer stem cells(ZS).
  • Cancer cell stemness and novel cancer treatment strategy(ZS).
  • Graphene-based real-time CTC capturing system development(ZS).
  • Metabolic disorder and cancer stem cells (knockout cell line and animal based studies)(ZS).