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The Chung Laboratory, in the Uro-Oncology Research Program, includes junior and senior faculty members and students working collaboratively on translational cancer research. The overall emphasis of the program is to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying lethal progression of cancer from primary to distant metastasis, with particular emphasis on the biology and targeting of prostate cancer bone metastasis.
The research program is also pursuing novel therapeutic and target discoveries to ultimately improve the prognosis and survival of cancer patients. The laboratory has isolated and characterized a panel of unique human prostate cancer cell lines, each bearing distinct malignant features reflecting tumor cells at a specific stage of disease progression. The C4-2, C4-2B, ARCaPE and ARCaPM lines established in this laboratory are among the prostate cancer cell lines most commonly used by the international cancer research community. The laboratory has also developed relevant stromal cell lines to facilitate the study of tumor-stroma interaction using 3-D and mouse models.
The research focuses of the laboratory are:
- to characterize the role of epithelial-mesenchymal and tumor-stroma interactions with emphasis on soluble and insoluble factors and their receptors mediating these cellular interactions;
- to study how metastatic initiating cells recruit bystander cancer cells to participate in cancer metastasis;
- to define the plasticity of cancer cells, including their ability to transition from epithelium to mesenchyme, express stem cell and neuroendocrine phenotypes, and co-evolve upon cell contact in 3-D co-culture, cell fusion and vertical gene transfer among cells;
- to correlate behavioral changes of cancer cells with disease progression manifesting from localized disease to lethal metastasis.
The laboratory is also focused on technology development including:
- molecular imaging of cancer and cancer metastasis with novel near-infrared fluorescence dyes;
- multispectral imaging of gene expressions at the single cell level to improve cancer diagnosis and prognosis;
- circulating cancer cell isolation, expansion, and genomic sequencing for personalized oncology;
- stem cell delivery and differentiation to improve therapeutic targeting.
The science and technologies pursued by the Chung Laboratory build the foundation for the design of rational-based therapies targeting cancer invasion and metastasis. In collaboration with other experts in urology, medical oncology, pathology, radiation oncology and bioengineering, the laboratory participates in team science projects pursuing the clinical translation of bench science to the bedside. The laboratory’s research is supported by a program project, independent research grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Defense, a foundation award, and industry-sponsored research.