Introduction: The diagnostic and therapeutic potential of the tumour microenvironment


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Thorsten Hagemann1
1Barts Cancer Institute, London, UK

Abstract

Tumour progression is characterised by massive cellular proliferation associated with alterations of the tumour microenvironment. The tumour microenvironment has a fundamental impact on the growth and spread of malignant disease and contributes – at least partially - to the resistance of malignant disease to chemo- and targeted- therapy. The interaction in this microenvironment is complex and involves a multitude of factors and cells.

The adaptation of tumour cells to the changing environment is a decisive driving force in the clonal selection that, ultimately, results in a more invasive and aggressive tumour phenotype. In this context, the tumour microenvironment causes a number of crucial effects on various cellular and physiologic functions, including angiogenesis, cell proliferation, immunosurveillance, metabolism, DNA replication and protein turnover. The inherent plasticity of the tumour microenvironment adds another layer of complexity, such that the challenge includes not only targeting the right cells and mechanisms in the right place, but also at the right time.

Moreover, the changes in the tumour microenvironment are associated with resistance to chemo-, radio- as well as targeted therapy, ultimately, poor patient prognosis in the majority of human cancers.

This session will highlight recent novel discoveries, which highly improved our knowledge about the tumour microenvironment, and which will help to translate into novel therapeutic approaches into the clinic.

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