Extracellular Matrix Changes in Ovarian Cancer Focus of 5-Year Study at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Extracellular Matrix Changes in Ovarian Cancer Focus of 5-Year Study at University of Wisconsin-Madison
Researchers at University of Wisconsin–Madison were awarded a $2.2 million, five-year grant to study the changes that occur in the extracellular matrix — a network of molecules in which cells reside — during the development of ovarian cancer. Their discoveries may point to potential new targets for treatment, or help to predict cancer progression or treatment responses. The extracellular matrix is a three-dimensional and complex network of structural proteins and other molecules that support and surround the cells of all tissues and organs. These molecules provide not only a physical scaffold, but also several biochemical signals that regulate cell function. Problems in the structure and/or composition of this matrix are associated with the development and progression of several diseases, including cancer. In fact, the extracellular matrix is altered in cancerous tissues, and a deregulated matrix has been shown to be a major component of the tumor microenvironment and to be involved in cancer development and progression. However, data on the specific changes that occur during cancer development, as well as their importance, is still limited. Biomedical engineers at University of Wisconsin–Madison plan to identify the specific changes in the extracellular matrix that occur in and drive ovarian cancer, and to develop laboratory models to study these changes in other types of cancer. The five-year $2.2 million grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as a part of the Cancer Tissue Engineering Collaborative Research Program. Researchers will analyze and modulate the
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