Over the course of their lifetime, one out of eight women and men will develop breast or prostate cancer. These tumors display a high tendency to spread to bone, hibernate for several years, and rapidly destroy bone at later stages of bone metastases. Bone metastases due to breast and prostate cancer severely compromise the quality of life and indicate poor outcome. The mechanisms how and why these tumor cells metastasize to bone and the contribution of host factors from the bone microenvironment are still poorly understood.
Our group aims at identifying important bone and tumor factors that cause bone metastasis in breast and prostate cancer. The specific projects include host-derived Wnt5a, the prognostic value of the Wnt inhibitor Dickkopf-1, and the role of the osteocyte network. To accomplish these ambitious aims, our group employs modern cell culture systems, combines preclinical models of bone metastases with high-resolution imaging, and makes use of access to patient material for clinical validation.
We expect that a better knowledge of these principles facilitates individualized therapies in the future.