With current cancer models, it is difficult to dissociate the function of the tumor cells with the function of surrounding non-cancerous cells and tissues. However, the decidua—which supports the growth of a fetus while protecting it from the mother’s immune system—exhibits many of the properties of cancer-associated tissue and could offer a way to study how surrounding tissue influences tumor activity. However, although the placenta breaks through and damages decidual tissue, much like a tumor might its surrounding tissue, the decidua shows no biological signs of being wounded and demonstrates that tissues are capable of tightly regulating their local immune environment and response to wounding.
Therefore, Dr. Osokine’s goal is to understand how. Recently, his team uncovered evidence that a molecular machine called PRC2 may control both wounding responses and immune responses within the decidua. Now, Dr. Osokine aims to more precisely characterize PRC2’s role in the decidua and explore the mechanisms that induce wound-like responses and how they contribute to or impede local immune activity. Unlocking the mystery behind the regulation of the decidua could shed light on how tumors regulate their surrounding tissue and ultimately aid the development of strategies to promote more effective immune responses against cancer.
Projects and Grants
Impact of epigenetic silencing on stromal control of fibrosis and immunity
University of California, San Francisco | All Cancers | 2019 | Adrian Erlebacher, M.D., Ph.D.
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