Hello! I’m Mauricio Rodriguez-Torres and I’m a PhD student in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Western University, working under the supervision of Dr. Alison Allan.
Most breast cancer deaths occur as a result of metastasis, the process whereby tumour cells leave the breast through the bloodstream and establish themselves in other organs. These metastatic tumours are often difficult to find and have an increased capacity for therapy resistance.
Furthermore, there is strong scientific evidence indicating that not all tumour cells have an equal ability to seed themselves in distant organs. In particular, a very aggressive group of breast tumour cells, also known as breast cancer stem cells, have been found to display an increased ability to form metastasis.
We’re identifying the molecular factors utilized by these tumour seeds to enter, be planted and thrive in distant organs. The identification and subsequent interference of the action of these factors with new drugs has the potential to improve breast cancer treatment by blocking the lethal seeding activity of breast cancer to distant vital organs, such as the lung.
Because so many breast cancer patients die from metastasis affecting their vital organs, we’re aiming to identify and control the tumour cells responsible for metastatic behavior.
Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!
– Mauricio Rodriguez-Torres, PhD student
Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit, London Health Sciences Centre