Research

 

The overall objective of our research is to monitor and detect aberrant protein presence and function in cancer and exploit this difference to diagnose and treat cancer and improve the well-being of cancer survivors.

We are particularly interested in how the post-translational modification of proteins affects cancer progression and secondary disease, which can hit childhood cancer survivors years after successful treatment. After translation proteins can be modified by, for example, proteolytic processing or phosphorylation. This creates a repertoire of “proteoforms”, which are all the variant and modified protein products of a single gene. They often differ in their localization, function and interaction with other proteins.

 


personalized

Personalized onco-proteomics:

We are working towards deep profiling of protein abundance, neo-antigens (from mutations and fusions), phosphorylation and proteolysis in solid and liquid biopsies from a range of pediatric cancers including leukemias, neuroblastoma and high-risk brain tumours.
One of the particular challenges in pediatric cancer research is lack of comprehensive established normal baselines. To enable relevant, age-matched comparisons we are heavily invested in gaining a better understanding of ‘normal’ ranges for protein abundance and protein modification in children as well as adolescents and young adults (AYA). We are working closely with the BC Children’s Hospital Biobank, and the pediatric arm of the Personalized Onco-Genomics program at the BC Cancer Agency and the oncologists at BC Children’s Hospital.

 


 

C3 – Cell-Cell Communication

Cells do not act in isolation. They secret a range of bioactive proteins that trigger cellular response in neighbouring and distant cells.We integrate cell biology, biochemistry, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics to study the role of post-translational modification in the regulation of select these extracellular signaling networks. Currently we are particularly interested in understanding how secreted proteases, primarily Cathepsins and Matrix Metallproteinases (MMP), remodel paracrine signalling in the leukaemia and neuroblastoma microenvironment.

 


 

data-integration

D2K – Data to Knowledge

Computational biology plays an integral role in our research. Our main focus is the development of algorithms for multi-scale data integraction, protein function analysis, pattern recognition and de-convolution of network effects in complex systems. Building on these we develop new biological knowledgebases and applications to improve the functional analysis of genomics and proteomics data and to guide personalized treatment decisions.

 

 


 

New technologies and methods in proteomics

Advances in the analysis of clinical specimen and new insights into complex disease biology are fundamentally enabled by breakthroughs in sample processing, protein biochemistry and data analysis algorithms. We therefore continuously strive to improve existing- and develop new technologies (both, wet-lab and computational) for the analysis of complex biological specimen enabling a more comprehensive, specific and sensitive investigation of smaller samples and more complex systems.