A tumor is an ever-evolving and growing ecosystem of cells, an unhinged organ that takes root and spreads wherever it can. Though researchers have historically focused heavily on its constituent cancer cells, it has become abundantly clear in recent years that almost all tumors also depend on a supporting cast of noncancerous cells for their survival, metastasis and resistance to therapy. These include cells that ensure blood supply for nourishment and plumbing to ferry away waste, and those that make the fibrous infrastructure of tissues. They also include a variety of immune cells that help suppress tumor-targeting immune responses and aid the unbridled growth, drug resistance and migration of cancer cells. Several Ludwig researchers are deeply involved in analyzing how these various cells support malignant growth, with the aim of targeting such dependencies for cancer therapy.
Ludwig Harvard investigator Rakesh Jain discusses how the abnormal tumor vessels and matrix create a hostile microenvironment that fuels tumor progression and confers resistance to conventional and emerging cancer treatments.
Johanna Joyce introduces the general features of the tumor microenvironment;, discusses critical functions of tumor-promoting myeloid cells in regulating cancer progression, metastasis and therapeutic resistance; and outlines current strategies for therapeutic targeting.
Ludwig Scientific Director Chi Van Dang has worked to unravel how the oncogene MYC links the aberrant metabolism of cancer cells to their unchecked proliferation.
Peter Ratcliffe outlines the HIF hydroxylase pathway, discusses its evolution and considers its operation in health and disease.