Mapping the Secret Complexity of Tumors to Defeat Aggressive Cancers
Presented: April 21, 2021
What makes cancer so difficult to defeat? Why do so many patients respond well to a particular treatment, only to relapse months or years later? The answer lies within the complex cellular makeup of cancerous tumors. Since cells within a tumor vary widely from one another, even if most are destroyed, at least some will survive and rebuild the tumor mass. Cancer biologist Michalina Janiszewska, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research, is bringing a heightened understanding to how a tumor’s diverse cell populations interact and what causes cells with particular mutations to expand. Likening tumors to jigsaw puzzles, Janiszewska is finding patterns that were never before seen. By mapping the intricate tumor ecosystem and finding new ways to detect the most dangerous of cells, she seeks to bring about better treatments for brain cancer and other highly aggressive or treatment-resistant tumors.