The research group investigates the mechanisms of tumor progression, especially the single steps of the metastasis cascade in solid tumors. In this context we are focusing in particular on the non-canonical Wnt signaling pathway and try to characterize its role in tumor progression and to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms. Moreover, we are analyzing the interaction of tumor cells with the surrounding benign cells of the tumor stroma, especially tumor-associated macrophages, in regard to tumor invasion. Our lab is particularly interested in the intercellular communication via extracellular vesicles.
In our research we work on one specific population of extracellular vesicles, the so-called microvesicles (diameter 100-1000 nm) which are constantly released from the cellular plasma membrane. One the one hand, we try to elucidate the functional effects of tumor-derived microvesicles on neighboring stroma cells, on the other hand, we are working on the identification of markers that will allow the detection and functional analysis of tumor microvesicles in cancer patients’ blood.
In order to better understand the mechanisms of tumor invasion, we analyze metastases samples of different solid tumors as well as cell lines and extracellular vesicles via high-throughput methods on the RNA, protein and metabolism level (RNA sequencing, Proteomics, Metabolomics). Based on the results we can then define signatures that will be correlated with clinical parameters in a translational approach and in the end can provide information about the prognosis of cancer patients.