It has been well recognized that the microenvironment of the tumor (i.e. the soil) plays an important role in tumor initiation, establishment and progression including metastasis. Although the importance of the microenvironment is a well accepted idea, the mechanisms through which it contributes to tumor biology has been understudied and thus it is not clear how the microenvironment contributes to tumor biology. Clearly the microenvironment can play an important role in cancer treatment either through providing biomarkers of a pro-tumorigenic microenvironment or serving as a target for cancer therapy.
The microenvironment, even prior to tumor development, consists of many aspects that can contribute to successful tumor growth. These include endothelial cells, fibroblasts, inflammatory/immune cells etc. In addition, the tumor may alter the microenvironment to facilitate its development. For example the myofibroblast is only recognized in tumor stroma and immune cells often are found in tumor stroma. Thus both the normal tissue microenvironment and the tumor-modulated microenvironment impact tumor biology. In the case of bone metastases, the microenvironment if very unique consisting of calcified and uncalcified matrix, as well as the bone remodeling cells, the osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
The overall goal of this program is to provide a mechanistic understanding of how the microenvironment influences prostate cancer cell growth and progression. We have assembled a multi-institutional interdisciplinary team of investigator to address various aspects of this problem. Furthermore, we have incorporated several very unique resources to help support this program and the TMEN as a whole.