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Every patient’s cancer is unique. Two people with the same cancer who have the same age, gender, height, weight, and ethnicity, and who have similar medical histories, almost surely have two very different cancers biologically. Hence, there is no guarantee that the drug or drugs administered based on cohort response will work for that specific patient.

 

What if we could make copies of patient tumors in vitro to identify effective therapies for the patient through drug testing?

Research 

Focusing on head and neck cancers, we employ an interdisciplinary approach to generate translatable Reverse Engineered Tumors (RETs) for personalized drug testing. 

We leverage biomaterials engineering strategies and in-depth knowledge of cancer biology and immunology to reconstruct patient tumors, combining patient-derived cancer cells with stromal cells to recapitulate tumor-stromal interactions in the tumor microenvironment.

 

We interface very closely with clinicians in the local hospitals and abroad as well as the pharmaceutical industry to develop these platforms.

 

Validation of these RETs as drug predictive models involves both preclinical and clinical evaluation.

 

Using advanced imaging and molecular methods, we also focus on mechanistic studies to elucidate the role of stromal heterogeneity on cancer progression and patient drug response; we have a particular interest in understanding how different CAF and TAM subpopulations influence immunotherapy resistance. 

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Please refer to articles below for research highlights:

 

Recreating the 3D Tumor Microenvironment  

Growing Patient-Derived Xenograft Tumors Using 3D Scaffolds 

Recapitulating Cancer-Stromal Interactions with Organoids in 3D Hydrogels

Review Articles on Tumor Engineering