Research images: (L) A Gertler Lab study of proteins required to help cells stick together sheds light on how tumor cells separate from the primary tumor and begin their journey through metastatic progression. (R) A Weinberg Lab study of interactions between breast cancer cells and immune cells helps Ludwig Center members understand how tumors co-opt immune processes in order to metastasize.
Understanding how tumors progress and spread, and how to detect and disrupt these mechanisms, is critical for progress in controlling cancer. Roughly 90% of all cancer deaths are due not to the primary tumor itself but to the effects of the metastatic spread of the disease. Yet, a great deal remains unknown about this multi-step process, which involves a series of changes in the characteristics, capabilities, and behaviors of malignant cells.
Research at the Ludwig Center at MIT is focused on illuminating the biological processes associated with malignant progression, particularly on the mechanisms that allow cancer cells in primary tumors to detach themselves, disseminate to distant organs, and ultimately form metastatic colonies in these new and different tissue environments. Additionally, Ludwig Center research groups are focused on developing highly-sensitive, non-invasive interventional tools that can specifically detect sites of metastatic disease and identify the most suitable treatments for advanced malignancies.
The Ludwig Center at MIT was established in 2006, with transformative gifts from the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research. Under the umbrella of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Ludwig Center supports a robust cancer research community—comprising of faculty and member laboratories, named chairs and research scholars, and graduate and postdoc fellowships—that is engaged in a shared, critical mission to unravel the mysteries of metastasis and control the spread of cancer.