Because many primary solid tumors can be surgically resected today, it is important to develop effective prevention and treatment of metastasis. To this end, we are aiming to establish novel therapeutics for clinical treatment through experiments using cell culture and mouse models.
Although tumor-initiating cells (also called as cancer stem cells) in epithelial cancer share some characteristics with tissue stem cells, the two types are distinctly different each other. Recently, it has become possible to culture these stem cells in vitro (e.g., Miyoshi H et al, Science 338: 108-113, 2012.)
On the other hand, it is also possible to evaluate the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents in mice transplanted with human tumor tissues excised by surgery. The method allows growth of the cancer epithelial cells in immunodeficient mice, retaining the characteristics of the original human tumors including their drug sensitivities.
In addition, we recently found a novel biomarker that allows reliable prediction of the patient prognosis; namely, the probability of metastatic relapse (Sonoshita et al., Cancer Discovery 5: 198-211, 2015.) Combining these methods, we aim to evaluate various therapeutic regimens, so that the information thus obtained is fed back directly to the patients in the ward who are in advanced stages of cancer and afraid of metastatic recurrence.