CRI Funded Scientists

Raymond Shim, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Calgary

Area of Research: All Cancers

Metastasis, the spreading of cancer cells around the body, is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The liver is a main site where tumors metastasize, and standard cancer treatments in patients with liver metastases are largely ineffective. Therefore, there is a need for a better understanding of how cancers seed and grow in organs like the liver to improve treatments. The current understanding is that once seeded in an organ, tumor cells change or remodel their cellular environment. For example, cells of the immune system, that normally detect and eradicate cancer cells, are instead reprogrammed to assist tumor growth. Nerves, that control the body’s stress response and are normally found all over the body, are also an important component of the tumor environment and densely grow around tumors. How these nerves grow towards tumors is not well understood. Furthermore, nerves release molecules that can suppress immune activation but whether this occurs at the tumor site is not clear.

Dr. Shim hypothesizes that after metastasis to the liver, tumor cells hijack nerve growth to suppress immunity. To test this hypothesis, Dr. Shim will (1) track the nerve growth around a developing tumor and determine what molecules are involved, (2) determine how nerves alter tumor growth and immunity, and (3) test whether inhibiting nerves can improve current cancer therapeutics. The significance of Dr. Shim’s project is that if nerves have a role in suppressing immunity during cancer, a plethora of pre-approved drugs can be repurposed and administered alongside current therapeutics to treat cancer metastases.

Projects and Grants

Immune modulation by sympathetic nerves in the tumor microenvironment and metastasis

University of Calgary | All Cancers | 2023 | Paul Kubes, PhD

This website uses tracking technologies, such as cookies, to provide a better user experience. If you continue to use this site, then you acknowledge our use of tracking technologies. For additional information, review our Privacy Policy.