Informing Cancer Therapy through mechanobiological insight
Host: Professor Leonie Quinn
Recent advances in our understanding of how cells exert and/or respond to mechanical force can inform new ways of treating epithelial cancers. Our lab has uncovered key mechanisms by which cancer cells drive changes in the structure and mechanical properties of the tumour extracellular matrix that influence the biology of cancer-associated fibroblasts and immune cells. This understanding has revealed new targetable vulnerabilities within the tumour microenvironment that we are poised to exploit.
Michael Samuel is a cancer biologist with an interest in understanding the cellular and non-cellular microenvironments of epithelial cancers and how they are co-opted by cancer cells to promote tumour growth and metastasis. He heads the Tumour Microenvironment Laboratory at the Centre for Cancer Biology and is Professor of Matrix Biology at the University of South Australia, Adelaide. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne in 2004, working with Prof. Matthias Ernst at the Ludwig Institute. He then joined the laboratory of Prof. Mike Olson at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow, with whom he identified the role of the Rho-ROCK signalling pathway in regulating tumour-promoting mechanical properties of the dermal extracellular matrix. He returned to Australia in 2012 to join the Centre for Cancer Biology as a Laboratory Head. He investigates the mechanisms by which cancer cells co-opt genetically normal cells within the microenvironment to promote tumour growth and metastasis, employing inter-disciplinary approaches spanning molecular, cell and tissue biology, and the materials sciences. Discoveries from his laboratory include a role for the ER-stress protein CRELD2 in the recruitment and education of cancer-associated fibroblasts and the roles of Rho-ROCK signalling in the tumour immune microenvironment. He has been awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, an Emerging Leader Award by the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (2020) and the Barry Preston Award for leadership in the field, by the Matrix Biology Society of Australia and New Zealand (2021).