RESEARCH FOCUS: Pharmacological targeting of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Research in our lab is focused on understanding and targeting the molecular mechanisms necessary for cancer cells to exit the primary tumor environment, metastasize, and acquire resistance to currently used targeted molecular therapies. A critical aspect of metastasis and drug resistance is the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is a highly complex process whereby normal epithelial cells can temporarily take on characteristics of more motile and fibroblastoid like cells to facilitate developmental processes and wound repair. Cancer cells aberrantly utilize this process during tumor invasion and metastasis, and EMT is also linked to acquisition of a stem-cell phenotype and drug resistance.
Understanding and overcoming how EMT facilitates drug resistance is a major focus of our research. To approach this question we have established a number of unique cell lines that have undergone EMT and acquired resistance to agents targeting ErbB receptors and downstream effector molecules. Global gene expression analyses of these resistant cells have revealed several potential targets that may be responsible for the EMT process and more importantly therapeutic resistance. Ongoing work in the lab utilizes genetic and pharmacologic manipulation of several potential resistance mediators to validate their role in eliciting EMT and the drug resistant status of cancer cells. To address these questions we utilize approaches that include three-dimensional cell culture and in vivo mouse models of tumor growth and metastasis. In particular our research has a directed focus on utilizing in vivo optical imaging to track and quantify cell number, location and specific activation of particular signaling pathways.
SUPPORT BREAST CANCER RESEARCH
IN THE WENDT LAB:
To support research happening in the Wendt lab gifts can be made to the Purdue Research foundation with a note indicating funds should be directed to the Lab of Dr. Michael Wendt. Gifts can be mailed to:
Purdue University Center for Cancer Research
Hansen Life Sciences Building
201 S. University St
West Lafayette IN 47907
September 2022 - "Tumor-cell autonomous SHP2 contributes to immune suppression in metastatic breast cancer," was published in Cancer Research Communications. Congrats Hao!
June 2022 - "Transglutaminase-2 mediates acquisition of neratinib resistance in metastatic breast cancer," was published in Molecular Biomedicine. Congrats Aparna!
May 2022 - Congrats to Aneesha on receipt of the Bilsland graduate fellowship!
March 2022 - Congrats to Hao Chen on successful defense of his dissertation, "The role of SHP2 in metastatic breast cancer." Good luck in your postdoc, Hao. You will be missed!