Our research interest is in the field of Cancer Systems Biology and focuses on two areas: Metastasis and the tumour microenvironment, & Precision Cancer Medicine.
1 in 3 people will develop cancer in their lifetime. Over 90% of cancer patient deaths are caused by the cancer spreading through the body, a process known as metastasis. It is the growth of metastatic tumours that compromises organ function ultimately leading to death. The Erler lab is focused on understanding what cancer cells need to spread to and grow at metastatic sites with the aim to identify, develop and test novel therapeutic strategies for clinical application. Our research is innovative, interdisciplinary, and closely linked to the clinic.
We focus on how the tumour microenvironment drives metastasis, with a focus on the extracellular matrix (ECM). We have shown:
- ECM remodelling promotes cancer progression
- Disrupting cell-ECM interactions disrupts metastatic growth
- Blocking tumour-stromal cell interactions limits disease progression
We have two main projects in the lab:
- Characterise metastatic ECM and test novel strategies to disrupt cell-ECM interactions at the metastatic site
- Offer precision medicine to patients with metastatic cancer through partnership with Rigshospitalet
We have developed a method to isolate native ECM from healthy and diseased organs, termed In Situ Decellularisation of Tissues (ISDoT). We utilise this method to study how the ECM is altered in disease and how cells respond to these alterations.
ISDoT: in situ decellularization of tissues for high-resolution imaging and proteomic analysis of native extracellular matrix. Mayorca-Guiliani AE, Madsen CD, Cox TR, Horton ER, Venning FA, Erler JT. Nature Medicine 23 (2017), pp. 890-898.
The hypoxic cancer secretome induces pre-metastatic bone lesions through lysyl oxidase. Cox TR, Rumney RMH, Schoof EM, Perryman L, Høye AM, Agrawal A, Bird D, Latif NA, Forrest H, Evans HR, Huggins ID, Lang G, Linding R, Gartland A, Erler JT. Nature. 2015 Jun 4;522(7554):106-110.
Mayorca et al, 2019, Nature Protocols
Madsen et al, 2015, EMBO Reports