Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University
Dissection of molecular pathways involved in controlling tumour-associated inflammation and in mediating interactions with tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs)
Alexandra-Chloé Villani is studying the contribution of the immune system and inflammatory processes in cancer development and progression. Since Rudolf Virchow first connected inflammation to cancer in 1863, additional evidence of this connection has emerged, including the observation that long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Aspirin®) reduces the risk of some cancers.
Of particular interest to her research is the association between tumour development and the recruitment and accumulation of a specific type of immune cells called macrophages. While these cells normally have the ability to prevent the establishment and spread of tumour cells, they were reported to acquire new functions in established cancer lesions that support tumour growth and dissemination.
Alexandra-Chloé proposes to use unbiased profiling and perturbation strategies to systematically dissect tumour-associated mechanisms involved in recruiting and mediating interactions with macrophages that are likely to contribute to the inflammation observed in the tumour environment. Her exploration of these mechanisms will advance our understanding of cancer progression and her findings may reveal new targets for anti-cancer therapeutics.
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