Sarcomas are a clinically challenging, heterogeneous group of malignancies that offer unique opportunities for cancer research. The study of sarcoma oncogenesis has provided invaluable biological insights applicable to other forms of cancer, and has led to significant breakthroughs in oncology. The prototypical example is the biologically rational treatment of KIT-driven GIST with imatinib, the first instance of a successful single agent tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment in a solid tumor, which established the current model for targeted therapy development for solid tumors.
Driven by a yet unmet clinical need, our research focuses on understanding the biology of mesenchymal tumors, from the somatic genetic changes that drive malignant transformation to the resulting altered phenotype, with particular emphasis on disrupted signaling mechanisms that are potentially amenable to therapeutic intervention. There are three interrelated areas of research focus in our laboratory:
- Identification of novel oncogenes in sarcoma and other solid tumors.
- Discovery of cellular dependencies and therapeutic targets in sarcoma, with a particular interest in gastrointestinal stromal tumor, dedifferentiated liposarcoma, leiomyosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.
- Characterization of response and resistance mechanisms to targeted therapies in sarcoma.