Anna-Karin Olssons forskargrupp

Anna-Karin Olssons forskargrupp

Kalyani Vemuri, Anna-Karin Olsson, Melanie Herre, Emma Pettersson, María Del Mar Moreno Mejías

Tumor Vascular Biology

Cancer is a systemic disease and mortalities are mainly caused by metastasis, deep vein thrombosis and a general organ failure. These complications all involve a tumor-induced interplay with the vasculature, both in the primary tumor as well as in peripheral organs. We aim to get a better understanding of this tumor-vessel interface, with the ultimate goal to improve current cancer therapy and to reduce adverse events caused by the disease or current treatment strategies. We are also exploring how tumor vessels can be targeted to treat cancer.

We have identified tumor-induced neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) as a novel mechanism by which a primary tumor can damage the vasculature, promote inflammation and reduce the functionality in distant organs. NETs form when neutrophils externalize decondensed chromatin mixed with content from their granules, such as anti-microbial peptides. Building on this finding, we are exploring the role of NETs in cancer pathology, with a special focus on the peripheral vasculature. We are also developing a novel targeting strategy for NETs and explore which tumor-derived factors that promote their formation.

Another interest in the lab is the mechanism by which platelets promote angiogenesis, tumor progression and metastasis. Cancer patients commonly display elevated platelet activation and suffer from increased risk of thromboembolic complications. This highlights the potential benefit of keeping platelet activity as low as possible in cancer patients, without increasing the risk of bleedings.

A third interest of our lab is the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines directed specifically at molecules expressed by tumor vessels. A main advantage of targeting the tumor vessels is that they have not developed the same immune escape mechanisms as the tumor cells. In addition, the vasculature has a more stable genetic composition and is easily accessible for the immune system.