Dr. Ramchandran’s lab is involved in gynecologic cancer research with a specific focus on the role of metabolism in gynecological cancer. Dr. Ramchandran collaborates extensively with faculty in OBGYN, and projects ongoing in the lab that are related to these collaborations are described below.
Little is understood about how ovarian cancer spreads and the lab is studying how ovarian cancer cells spread both locally within the abdominal cavity and distantly through the blood stream. Due to the predilection for ovarian cancer cells to spread to the omentum, which is a tissue in the abdomen mainly comprised of fat cells, one focus of the lab is to further understand the metabolism of ovarian cancer cells as it relates to fat. This is being done by investigating and altering various pathways involved in tumor growth and metabolism. In collaboration with Dr. Erin Bishop, Assistant Professor in OBGYN, the lab is focused on studying ovarian cancer spheroids, or clumps of cells, that form when they break off of the ovary and spread within the abdominal cavity. Ovarian cancer spheroids are thought to be more resistant to treatment than single ovarian cancer cells. The lab is working on understanding proteins involved in spheroid formation and metastasis with the goal of discovering ways to alter their behavior that will lead to new therapies for ovarian cancer that include spheroids as a target.
Patients with BRCA1 mutations either in breast cancer or ovarian cancer show highest incidence of brain mets, which suggest that breast cancer and ovarian cancer may share some common mechanisms to metastasis to the brain. This project is developed in collaboration with Dr. Ling Wang, an instructor in OBGYN. Tumor metastasis is the outcome of interaction of metastasizing cells with the environment of specific organs. We are investigating the interaction of the brain microenvironment with breast and ovarian cancer cells in facilitating brain metastasis.
A second metabolic associated project includes the endothelial cell specific chemotaxis receptor (ECSCR), a cell surface protein expressed in adipocytes, which was previously reported by Drs. Ramchandran and George Wilkinson as a molecule that influence VEGFR2 receptor signaling on endothelial cells. Dr. Ramchandran collaborates with Dr. Yi-Wen Huang, OBGYN faculty to investigate the role of ECSCR and PTEN signaling in obesity induced endometrial cancer tumorigenesis.
Finally, Dr. Ramchandran’s lab in collaboration with Chair of OBGYN Dr. Janet Rader is studying the role of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis associated with cervical cancer progression. They are specifically focused on the mechanistic role associated with Robos in mediating cervical cancer progression and metastasis.