References and Links to Papers
Expect the unexpected in research. Each project I work on comes with both unforeseeable challenges and opportunities. Many of the papers I’ve published were born out of experiments performed on the fly or purely for curiosity's sake. Check out the list of my publications below, and don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.
The molecular mechanisms that control the balance between antiangiogenic and proangiogenic factors and initiate the angiogenic switch in tumors remain poorly defined. By combining chemical genetics with multimodal imaging, we have identified an autocrine feed-forward loop in tumor cells in which tumor-derived VEGF stimulates VEGF production via VEGFR2-dependent activation of mTOR, substantially amplifying the initial proangiogenic signal. Disruption of this feed-forward loop by chemical perturbation or knockdown of VEGFR2 in tumor cells dramatically inhibited production of VEGF in vitro and in vivo. This disruption was sufficient to prevent tumor growth in vivo. In patients with lung cancer, we found that this VEGF:VEGFR2 feed-forward loop was active, as the level of VEGF/VEGFR2 binding in tumor cells was highly correlated to tumor angiogenesis. We further demonstrated that inhibition of tumor cell VEGFR2 induces feedback activation of the IRS/MAPK signaling cascade. Most strikingly, combined pharmacological inhibition of VEGFR2 (ZD6474) and MEK (PD0325901) in tumor cells resulted in dramatic tumor shrinkage, whereas monotherapy only modestly slowed tumor growth. Thus, a tumor cell-autonomous VEGF:VEGFR2 feed-forward loop provides signal amplification required for the establishment of fully angiogenic tumors in lung cancer. Interrupting this feed-forward loop switches tumor cells from an angiogenic to a proliferative phenotype that sensitizes tumor cells to MAPK inhibition.
Extensive oncologic experience argues that the most efficacious applications of antiangiogenic agents rely upon a combination with cytotoxic drugs. Yet there remains a lack of clarity about how to optimize scheduling for such drug combinations. Prudent antiangiogenic therapy might transiently normalize blood vessels to improve tumor oxygenation and drug exposure. Using [15O]H2O positron emission tomography imaging in a preclinical mouse model of non–small cell lung cancer, we observed that short-term treatment with the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor/platelet-derived growth factor receptor inhibitor PTK787 licensed a transient window of improved tumor blood flow. The improvement observed was associated with a reduced leakiness from tumor vessels, consistent with induction of a vascular normalization process. Initiation of a cytotoxic treatment in this window of tumor vessel normalization resulted in increased efficacy, as illustrated by improved outcomes of erlotinib administration after initial PTK787 treatment. Notably, intermittent PTK787 treatment also facilitated long-term tumor regression. In summary, our findings offer strong evidence that short-term antiangiogenic therapy can promote a transient vessel normalization process that improves the delivery and efficacy of a targeted cytotoxic drug
January 25, 2025
Treatment with EGFR kinase inhibitors improves progression-free survival of patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer. However, all patients with initial response will eventually acquire resistance and die from tumor recurrence. We found that intermittent high-dose treatment with erlotinib induced apoptosis more potently and improved tumor shrinkage significantly than the established low doses. In preclinical models of EGFR-mutant xenografts, intermittent high-dose treatment (200 mg/kg every other day) was tolerable and prolonged progression-free survival and reduced the frequency of acquired resistance. Intermittent EGFR-targeted high-dose schedules induce more profound as well as sustained target inhibition and may afford enhanced therapeutic efficacy.