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.
February 2024 - Sherri Dovico has joined the Wendt as our lab manager. Welcome Sherri!
December 2023 - FGFR1 Signaling Facilitates Obesity-Driven Pulmonary Outgrowth in Metastatic Breast Cancer, was published in MCR. Congrats Eylem!
August 2023 - The Wendt lab has moved to Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa!
July 2023 - Congrats to Aneesha Kulkarni on successful defense of her dissertation, "The role of neutrophils in metastatic breast cancer." You will be missed!
June 2023 - Congrats to Mitchell on receipt of the Bilsland graduate fellowship!
June 2023 - Congrats to Hassan on receipt of the Lilly Endowment graduate fellowship!
June 2023 - Congrats to Marvis on receipt of the Yeshwant A. Gore fellowship!