Dr. Florencia McAllister
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention
My laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate the recruitment of immune cells to the very early pancreatic pre-neoplastic lesions and the effect of these cells on the development and progression of pancreatic cancer. During tumor initiation and development, recruited immune cells establish a dynamic and close interaction with the neoplastic epithelium as well as with the fibrotic stroma, ultimately affecting tumor behavior. Gaining further knowledge on this interaction will inform us on how to build more effective novel strategies for early detection, prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Our laboratory has taken two approaches to investigate these issues:
1. Use of genetically-engineered mouse (GEM) models that mimic the development of human pancreatic cancer to dissect the role of immune cells in the regulation of cancer development.
A. Generation of GEM-immune reporter mice with the goal of performing multi-parametric cell sorting on particular types of immune cells at early and late stage of tumorigenesis for transcriptome analysis and for imaging studies aimed to determine cellular location and dynamics.
B. Utilization of bone marrow transplantation to test the functionality of specific immune cells or molecules in GEM models of pancreatic cancer.
2. Molecular characterization of the immune and epithelial human cells obtained from patients with pre-neoplastic lesions and pancreatic cancer to confirm the human significance of the experimental findings and as a discovery platform.