Submitted by Alexandra Naba of the Hynes Laboratory at the Koch Institute.
Hynes Laboratory, Koch Institute
"This image shows a section of the liver of a mouse bearing a metastatic mammary tumor. The liver has been invaded by tumor cells coming from the mammary tumor. The normal liver appears in purple in the upper right corner of the image and the metastases appear as foci in the lower left part of the image. A characteristic of the metastases (or secondary tumors) is the dramatic deposition of collagen fibers (in blue) within and around them.
I am interested in understanding how the extracellular matrix influences tumor progression and metastasis formation. The extracellular matrix constitutes the architectural scaffold that supports cells within tissues. Alterations in its organization and/or changes in its composition have been shown to promote tumor progression. Collagens – depicted in the images submitted – are one of the main components of the extracellular matrix and I use it as a marker of tumor progression, as the level of extracellular matrix deposition and organization correlates positively with a more advanced stage of tumor progression. My research goal is to characterize the changes in the composition of the extracellular matrix during tumor progression in order to identify novel biomarkers that will serve as prognostic and diagnostic tools for patients with cancer."