Cellular Microenvironment Research in Lung Cancer and Lung Fibrosis

Research interests overview


Tissue cells are social organisms that tune their behavior based on a continuous exchange of biochemical and biophysical information with their surrounding microenvironment, which includes neighbor cells, extracellular matrix components and soluble factors. Normal cell-microenvironment interactions are essential for the maintenance of tissue structure and function. Conversely, cell-microenvironment interactions become awry in many diseases such as fibrosis and cancer, leadign to a permanent loss of tissue structure and function, and too often to the death of the individual. We study how does the microenvironment controls cell behavior and misbehavior in normal and diseased conditions, particularly in lung cancer and fibrosis. For this purpose, we use bioengineering and biophysical tools to control the biochemical, biomechanical and structural properties of the microenvironment to mimic essential physiopathological aspects. We then apply these tools to study quantitatively how tissue cells (mostly epithelial cells and fibroblasts) respond to these cues. Our ultimate goal is to be translational by using our understanding of how cell-microenvironment interactions contribute to fibrosis and cancer to define new therapeutic strategies against these devastating diseases as well as to identify novel biomarkers. For this purpose, we work in close collaboration with clinical groups, and often use primary tissue cells from patients.