Zahir Chaudhry Rose Hills
Using DNA-Directed Patterning to Study EMT and MET in Breast Cancer
Invasive breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the US, with over 270,000 new cases diagnosed annually. With significant advancements in diagnosis and treatment, approximatey 90 percent of deaths are related to metastasis, the migration of cancer cells from the primary tumor to peripheral organs. Here, a subpopulation of tumor cells relies on phenotypic transitions to gain traits that aid in migration and invasion. This rare population of cells exists on a spectrum of phenotypes and is more resistant to treatment, highlighting the importance of increased investigation.
The goal of my study is to investigate these rare intermediate phenotypes that are induced by the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and reverse mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). I will pattern tumorigenic, breast epithelial cells with other tumor microenvironment (TME) cells and determine which activate EMT/MET in tumor cells. Knowing what induces EMT/MET will allow me to control breast cancer cell phenotype and study specific intermediate phenotypes on the transitional spectrum. Understanding the mechanisms behind EMT/MET will potentially aid in disease prevention and eventual therapeutic development.