The pathophysiological situation in human tumors and their metastases is determined by various characteristics such as the tumor cell metabolism, the local micromilieu and the stromal cellular environment compromising fibroblasts, endothelial and immune cells. These factors not only affect each other resulting in spatiotemporal heterogeneity in tumor tissues but are also critical modulators of therapeutic intervention.
The aim of the “Tumor Pathophysiology Group” at OncoRay is to gain deeper insight into and interfere with pathophysiological mechanisms leading to tumor progression and therapeutic resistance. One field of interest is the role of stromal fibroblasts in the scenario of tumor growth and metastasis which includes processes as complex as tumor angiogenesis and immune escape. Another focus is the adverse impact of defined factors, i.e. catabolites, in the tumor micromilieu on tumor and stromal cells and their relevance in anti-tumor therapy. And a third aspect is motivated by the tumor stem cell theory and recent findings that non-differentiated, re-populating tumor initiating cell populations may be more resistant to radiotherapeutic approaches than the major tumor cell mass.The group particularly focuses on epithelial tumor types and primarily but not exclusively applies various complex in vitro culture systems and assays such as a “spheroid-based screen”, multilayer cultures and co-culture models to reflect and study specific pathophysiologic characteristics of human tumors. One of our perspectives is to extend the mechanistic, therapeutically relevant in vitro studies by the examination and use of pathophysiologically adequate, tumor-type specific in-vivo models using various imaging modalities.