Cancer is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the developed world consuming more than eight million human lives each year. Despite significant advances made in the treatment of specific cancer types, eradicating the disease, especially in its most dangerous metastatic forms, has yet to be achieved, emphasizing the urgent need for exploration of novel therapeutic targets and paradigms, and this requires deeper insights of the underlying mechanisms of cancer.

 

In our laboratory, we investigate the molecular processes operating in and leading to generation of cancer cells (the process is known as a carcinogenesis), cancer progression, as well as mechanisms underlying the ability of tumor cells “to escape” the destructive impact of anticancer therapies used in clinics. In particular, we study the role that Smurf2, a HECT type E3 ubiquitin ligase and recently identified tumor suppressor (Blank et al. Nature Med 2012; Zou et al. BBA-Rev Cancer 2015; Emanuelli et al. Cancer Res 2017), plays in the ability of cancer cells to replicate, metastasize and hinder the effects of anticancer therapies.

 

Our research program addresses key questions in cancer biology: What are the fundamental molecular mechanisms operating in cancer? How are they regulated? How do they affect tumor cell sensitivity to anticancer therapies? And, most importantly, how can we target cancer-related molecular networks to cure this devastating disease. This knowledge is highly sought by cancer researchers, oncology clinicians, and cancer patients, especially by patients for whom anticancer therapy has failed to show satisfactory effects. For these patients, a better therapy is essentially a matter of life or death.

We believe that the knowledge that will be generated by our studies will provide novel targets in cancer treatment and the design of new, more efficient, therapeutics to combat this devastating disease.