Kusumbe Group | Tissue and Tumor Microenvironments
We examine the role and therapeutic potential of vascular niches and their angiocrine signals in normal and tumor tissues.
The cells in our body reside in many diverse environments, often designated as tissue microenvironments. These specialized tissue microenvironments contain the necessary information to instruct the fate and behavior of cells. Several important characteristics of the tissue microenvironment are altered in cancer leading to establishment of the tumour microenvironment.
Blood vessels and their endothelial cells are of key significance in generating niches in tissue and tumor microenvironments. Blood vessels play a pivotal role during organ development and regeneration, while pathological conditions are often associated with a dysregulation of the vasculature. The vascular network extends into every organ and is implanted in a specific manner to ensure optimal delivery of oxygen and nutrients in those tissues. This places the vasculature in a strategic position for providing essential instructive, paracrine/angiocrine signals. Therefore, endothelial cells play a key role in shaping and defining the tissue and tumour microenvironments. This provides an opportunity for targeting the endothelium and exploiting its angiocrine activity towards therapeutic benefits. However, to utilize the complete potential of endothelial cells requires detailed understanding of the functional role of endothelial cells and their angiocrine signaling in tissue development, repair, regeneration and alterations occurring during pathological conditions and cancer.
We are interested in exploring the contributions of the vasculature in defining the tissue microenvironments and unravelling the changes occurring in the vascular microenvironments during tumour growth. Our group seeks to elucidate the angiocrine signals underlying the regional specialization of tissue microenvironments, and how these specialized vascular niches instruct cell fate and behavior in normal and tumour tissue.