Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis

Drug discovery case study: invadopodia and cancer metastasis

Drug discovery case study: invadopodia and cancer metastasis

To determine how cells control invadopodia formation, Dr. Sara Courtneidge and colleagues screened a collection of chemical compounds to identify those that either promote or inhibit the process.

Making cancer drugs work better

Making cancer drugs work better

Dr. Masanobu Komatsu's team discovered a molecule that controls tumor vessel maturation—a counterintuitive approach that could improve cancer drug delivery.

Meet a cancer researcher

Meet a cancer researcher

Meet Dr. Aman Mann, a postdoctoral researcher in Sanford-Burnham’s NCI-designated Cancer Center.

What is a tumor microenvironment and metastasis?

The growth and spread of cancer involves not just the tumor cells themselves, but also other cells, tissues, and molecules in the environment surrounding the tumor – the tumor microenvironment. As a tumor grows, the tumor microenvironment not only nourishes the cancer cells, but also provides a mechanism by which they can escape to distant sites in the body – a process known as metastasis.

What is the focus of our program—What questions are
we asking?

Research in this program aims to understand the molecular basis of how cells interact with each other and with the molecules in their environment, and how these processes promote tumor growth and metastasis. We also explore how the immune system is altered to promote tumor growth, and how tumor cells stimulate the production of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to gain access to nutrients and metastasize. This is the starting point for the identification of strategies to modify the tumor microenvironment to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.

How will our research help patients?

Our research has potential for the discovery of new cancer drugs with new mechanisms of action targeting the tumor microenvironment, as well as the possibility of safer and more effective ways to deliver cancer drugs to tumors while minimizing side effects.

Recent Developments


Kicking invasion up a notch

Sanford-Burnham researchers identify a novel, signaling pathway that promotes the invasion of cancer cells, which has important implications in understanding how cells communicate with one another under normal and disease circumstances.  Read More...

Recent Publications
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About the Cancer Center
Shared NCI Cancer Centers Council (C3) cores at nearby Centers
Cancer Metabolism, Autophagy, & Nutrient Sensing Symposium
Cell Death and Survival Networks
Progress on the Path to Cancer Cures
Tumor Initiation and Maintenance
Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis
Cancer Center Postdoc/Grad Student Retreat - July 30, 2014
Cancer Center Shared Resources
Sanford-Burnham Cancer Metabolism Symposium
Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery