My research program is focused on the investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying tumor development with the goal of identifying new therapeutic targets for cancer treatment.
-My previous research uncovered an RNA-binding protein, CRD-BP (coding region determinant-binding protein) which is a Wnt/Bcatenin target. It seems to play a critical role in cancer development and metastasis. CRD-BP also mediates a cross talk between Wnt and Hh signaling pathways in colorectal cancer development. The role of CRD-BP in the cross talk between Wnt and Hh appears critical for basal cell carcinoma development as suggested the basal cell carcinoma cell line UW-BCC1 that we generated. Using this cell line, my lab continues to study the role of Wnt and CRD-BP in basal cell carcinoma developement.
-My research has expanded on investigating mechanisms of cancer metastasis and drug resistance. Identifying mechanisms of cancer heterogeneity leading to drug resistance and metastasis are some aspects of my current research program. We previously demonstrated that breast tumor cells fuse with mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) spontaneously and fusion products showed increased metastatic potential. We also observed that fusion between non metastatic breast cancer cells and MSCs was enhanced with hypoxia by a mechanism involving apoptosis. My lab is investigating cellular and molecular aspects of cancer cell fusion-driven heterogeneity and metastasis.