Ronald J. Buckanovich, MD, PhD
The focus Dr. Buckanovich’s laboratory is to develop novel ovarian cancer therapeutics targeting the ovarian tumor vascular/stem cell niche. While characterizing ovarian tumor vasculature we have identified cells which have ovarian cancer stem cell properties. We have defined these cells based on their expression of the enzymatic activity ALDH and the stem cell marker CD133. The identification of reliable ovarian cancer stem cell markers gives us the unique opportunity to develop stem cell targeted therapies. In addition, similar to that observed in the hematopoietic system, we have observed a hierarchy of ovarian cancer stem cell differentiation. Understanding the factors which regulate the cellular differentiation and proliferation provides additional therapeutic targets. We recently demonstrated that host cells, both tumor endothelial cells and mesenchymal stem cells provide critical self-renewal signals to ovarian cancer stem cells. We are working to further define the communications between ovarian cancer stem cells and these host cells. In order to study these interactions and their impact on cancer stem cell differentiation we are using novel microfluidics devices to observer the symmetric/asymmetric divisions of single cells. We have also established collaboration with the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences as a means to translate our findings into meaningful nanoparticle based therapeutics.