Stavros S. Niarchos Professor
At the Weill Cornell Medicine/Meyer Cancer Center
The Metastasis and Exosome Developmental Laboratory is composed of basic researchers and physician-scientists who investigate all stages of metastasis, starting from the earliest stage of metastasis development, known as the “pre-metastatic niche”, a concept defined by Dr. Lyden and his team.
The pre-metastatic niche is a favorable microenvironment of immune suppressed cells at distant organ sites that forms prior to the arrival of metastatic tumor cells, therefore favoring immune evasion and metastasis formation. Investigations focus on highly malignant pediatric and adult cancers and their secreted factors, specifically exosomes. Exosomes are nano-sized extracellular vesicles released by tumor cells into the circulation that support pre-metastatic niche and metastasis formation. Recently, we have identified a new particle secreted by cells, which we called the exomere. This novel particle is uptaken by distant organs affecting their metabolism, demonstrating the essential role of tumor-secreted particles in supporting the systemic effects of cancer, reflected by muscle wasting and organ failure in cancer patients. Combining the power of exosome and exomere proteomics and genomics provides novel biomarkers for the detection of cancer and metastasis in patient tissues and in blood. Moreover, targeting the cells and molecules in pre-metastatic niches, as well as targeting tumor exosomes and exomere proteins and genes that support metastatic formation, offer new therapeutic approaches for treating pediatric and adult patients with metastatic potential and metastatic disease.