Our Lab is interested in understanding cellular and molecular origins of melanoma initiation and clonal progression, as well as, to determine factors underlying aggressive metastatic properties of this disease. Using this knowledge we aim to design targeted therapeutic approaches against metastatic disease.
Another major focus of the lab is to study tumor heterogeneity and branched evolution using RNA-Seq and Onco-Exome Capture Seq approaches of human clinical tumor samples. In addition, we are utilizing transgenic mouse models of cell lineage tracing to understand clonality and heterogeneity of skin tumors in response to UV exposure.
Dr. Boiko’s Lab focuses on discovering key molecular differences between tumor initiating and differentiated cell populations using human surgical melanoma samples. In addition, they are studying involvement of the immune system in control of disease progression and how to mediate its components to design more efficient therapeutic regimens.
Detail on Research
The goal of our research is to identify molecular factors and cell lineages of neural crest origin that contribute to melanoma initiation. We are using gene expression analysis to pinpoint signaling networks that are circumvented during normal development or regeneration of melanocytic lineages and result in malignant melanoma transformation. Using RNA inhibition and cDNA overexpression approaches we modulate expression of the candidate genes in target cell populations that are then assayed for their tumorigenic properties in-vitro and in-vivo. To better understand tumor clonality and heterogeneity we are using RNA-Seq and Onco-Exome Capture Seq approaches of human clinical melanoma samples to look at the mutation profiles of matched primary and metastatic lesions. In addition, we are utilizing transgenic mouse models of cell lineage tracing to understand clonality and heterogeneity of skin tumors in response to UV/DMABA exposure.
Second major direction of Dr. Boiko lab is to understand the role of macrophages and the immune system in melanoma parthenogenesis and how to translate this knowledge into more potent anti-cancer therapies. Currently we are developing genetic tools and antibodies that modulate macrophage activity and testing their effects in-vivo in the mouse xenotransplantation model of human metastatic disease.
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