MicroStem awarded SBIR Phase I grant by NCI to investigate microenvironments that promote lung cancer cell metastasis

 MicroStem, Inc. announced today that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded the company a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant to support the discovery of tumor microenvironments that promote lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis.

Lung cancer remains a leading cause of cancer death worldwide. In the US, lung cancer is responsible for 29% of cancer-related death, more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Current conventional therapy - surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc. are far from being curative for many forms of lung cancer Metastasis, the spread of tumor cells to distant sites, is a common outcome after primary tumor treatment and is the primary cause of mortality in cancer patients. The mechanisms and the temporal progressions that lead to metastasis remain poorly defined. Recent studies have linked cancer metastasis to the improper reactivation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT).

MicroStem, Inc. has developed a novel technology which thousands of extracellular proteins, growth factors and signaling molecules can be screened individually and in combination on a functionalized glass slide. Cell behavior on these conditions can be monitored and quantified. MicroStem will utilize this specialized cell array screening system to elucidate the physiologically relevant microenvironments that drives the EMT process for lung cancer cells. MicroStem’s unique MicroMatrixTM array technology will serve as a novel platform to understand the interaction between tumor cells and their microenvironment (cell-cell, cell-matrix). The results of this study will advance the basic understanding of the natural process for tumor invasion and metastasis in lung cancer; and therefore, laying out a foundation to discover more effective therapeutic drugs.