Manalis Laboratory


Scott Manalis

Research Update

Despite the central importance of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), understanding of their role in metastasis has been limited by the extreme difficulty of characterizing CTC populations over time and linking them to metastases that occur during natural tumor progression. Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) have emerged as an attractive model for recapitulating the natural multistage evolution of cancers as they now allow for inducible, tissue-specific expression of oncogenes as well as conditional, tissue-specific deletion of tumor suppressors. In collaboration with the Jacks lab, we are using GEMMs together with microfluidic technology to understand how progression to metastasis correlates with, and could be explained by, the circulatory dynamics and physical properties of CTCs. Our approach will make possible a series of experiments that can answer fundamental questions about the relationship between CTC characteristics and metastasis and will ultimately potentiate hypothesis-driven tumor biology studies and large-scale preclinical exploration of therapeutic strategies that are not feasible in patients.