PANOS ANASTASIADIS, Ph.D.
The Mayo Clinic

“Cadherins and Catenins as Biomarkers of Pediatric and Adult Glioma Aggressiveness”

In this project, Dr. Anastasiadis hopes to enhance the understanding of the processes that promote the growth and invasiveness of brain tumors, and help identify novel biomarkers of aggressive tumor behavior that will hopefully lead to more effective individualized therapeutic treatments. 

A better understanding of the factors that regulate brain tumor growth and invasiveness and development of prognostic markers that inform on the likelihood of tumor recurrence could alter the medical management of these tumors and lead to the identification of novel medical targets. Such biomarkers may be especially useful in pediatric tumors where current prediction of disease progression is often based on the limited evaluation of tumor size.

Normal cells inhibit their growth and migration when they adhere to each other.  These properties are progressively lost in tumor cells, contributing to increased rates of cell proliferation and migration. The processes imply that adhesion-triggered signaling events regulate both cell growth and the ability to migrate.

In order for tumor cells to invade a tissue, they usually detach from surrounding cells.  Two groups of proteins, known as cadherins and catenins, are part of the protein machinery that controls adhesion between cells. The cadherin family of adhesion receptors regulates cell-cell adhesion during a variety of biological processes, including tissue development and tumor invasion/metastasis and one of the catenins, known as p120, also controls the ability of a cell to migrate.

Basic research findings on the mechanics of cancer invasion have identified cadherins and p120 catenin as important players in promoting cell invasiveness and tumor growth. Preliminary experiments show potential for the involvement of p120 in glioma growth and invasiveness and suggest that cadherins and catenins may be important therapeutic targets, as well as novel markers of disease aggressiveness in brain tumors.

Dr. Anastasiadis and his team will examine the mechanisms by which p120 regulates the growth and invasiveness of glioma cells and to determine whether cadherins or catenins can be used as prognostic markers to predict tumor aggressiveness and the likelihood of tumor recurrence following surgery in both adult and pediatric CNS malignancies.

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