The Signaling and Biotechnology (SBT) Program aims to dissect key signaling pathways regulating diverse cancer hallmarks, especially cancer metastasis and cancer immunity, and to use this knowledge in developing innovative technologies and therapeutics that improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The SBT Program conducts highly innovative and integrated research in signaling and biotechnology to address key issues and unmet needs within the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center catchment area.
Aim 1: Define signaling pathways impinging on cancer initiation, progression and metastasis as well as regulating cancer immunity and drug resistance.
- Identify the critical signaling pathways that regulate diverse oncogenic processes, cancer immune escape as well as drug resistance.
- Focus on PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, autophagy/mitophagy regulation, epigenetics and DNA damage signaling, and interferon and TCR/BCR signaling
Aim 2: Invent and optimize novel agents to be tested using innovative engineering approaches, including organoids, nanopores, and high throughput screening.
- Develop these agents to improve screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer to include more efficient targeting of signaling pathways and overcoming drug resistance.
- Develop small molecule inhibitors, cancer vaccines targeting key pathways involved in cancer hallmarks, and new in vitro technologies such as organoids, nanopores, and high throughput screening to facilitate assessment of novel agents.
- Offer the robust models and systems allowing for integrating signaling and biotechnology with the goal to develop novel agents for cancer targeting.
Aim 3: Develop improved cancer screening, diagnostics, treatment, and tumor monitoring strategies through use of innovative devices (imaging or ablative), invention of new tumor specific contrast agents, nuclear medicine theranostics, and development of computational modeling, simulation, and deep learning algorithms.
- Develop and use innovative technologies and devices to monitor key signaling molecules identified in Aim 1 and new agents identified in Aim 2 within cells and tumors as well as develop computational tools and deep learning algorithms for the improvement of cancer diagnosis.
Research Project Highlights
- Novel signaling pathways mediating oncogene-induced senescence and tumor suppression
- PD1 negatively regulates development of humoral response for tumor development
- Identification of novel signaling, hypoxia and epigenetic regulation in mitophagy-mediated stem cell regulation and cancer progression and metastasis as well as drug resistance
- Identification of Th9 cells as a new paradigm for adaptive cancer therapy
- Development of small molecule inhibitors targeting key signaling pathways critical for cancer hallmarks
- Therapeutic efficacy of exosomes secreted by placental stem cells against aggressive prostate cancer cells
- Development of patient derived organoids and microtechnology for fundamental and translational tumor-on-a-chip studies
- Development of the microfluidic device-based technologies to study the epigenomic landscape in cells using low number of the cells
- Development of actively targeted theranostic nanoparticles for tumor specific delivery
- Pharmacokinetic modeling of signaling molecules in the context of dynamic tumor microenvironment in vivo
- Biophysical mathematical modeling to enable therapeutic intervention
- Investigator-initiated clinical trial to evaluate the use of Multispectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT) for the detection of cancer
- Development of the unique probes and tools to monitor signaling in tumors using advanced imaging technology
- Developing and applying a novel technology for cancer treatment