Recently, at the 2015 United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) annual meeting, LMP’s Dr. Tao Wang, a pathology resident with Dr. Ming Tsao was awarded the Stowell-Orbison Award for his poster presentation on “Senescent Fibroblasts Upregulate Cytokines That Can Increase Pancreatic Cancer Invasion.”
We talked with Dr. Wang about his work and where he hopes to go next with his research.
“I study the fibroblast cells that make up the microenvironment around pancreatic cancer cells. While the fibroblasts are not cancerous themselves, they can alter the behaviour of the cancer cells. My experiments have shown that some fibroblasts around the cancer can assume an “aged” or senescent behavioural pattern,” explained Dr, Wang.
“These cells no longer proliferate, but they secrete higher levels of various signalling molecules that increase the ability of the cancer to invade and metastasize. Some of these signalling molecules, such as IL8, may be therapeutically targetable. By better understanding both the cancer and its surrounding microenvironment, scientists and physicians can develop new therapies that target both components, which will hopefully lead to better patient outcomes,” he said.
Dr. Wang has worked in Dr. Tsao’s lab for the last two years as a pathology resident and is enrolled in the molecular pathology research fellowship program.
“I believe the work I am doing may be relevant to many other cancers as well, which also have similar cells in their microenvironment. I would love to continue to explore this phenomenon in both pancreatic and other cancers,” he continued. “The other important aspect is testing therapeutics that target the pathways altered by these senescent fibroblasts.”
“Ultimately, the goal is to establish new treatment strategies and options for cancer patients,” he added.