Transgenic Models of Cancer


 Blyth 23

 Professor Karen Blyth

Head of Transgenic Models of Cancer Facility

The Transgenic Models of Cancer lab uses in vivo models to recapitulate human cancer and interrogate all aspects of disease progression within a biological context (from early disease through to metastasis and recurrence). Validating in vitro discoveries in physiologically relevant models in this way will expedite novel therapeutic approaches for patient benefit. The group has expertise in modelling different cancer types using state-of-the art genetic and refined transplantation models to interrogate how oncogenic pathways, altered metabolism and the tumour microenvironment contribute to cancer.

The Scotland Institute is renowned for its application of in vivo modelling to address key cancer questions. At the core of this is the Transgenic Models Lab, headed by Karen Blyth, which facilitates collaborative science with many of our colleagues at the Scotland Institute, University of Glasgow, as well as external research groups. Cancers spontaneously grow at their site of origin, invade surrounding tissue and colonise distant organs which occurs through a complex array of processes, and which can be distinct between different tumour types. So interrogating aspects of this multifaceted behaviour in a plastic dish has obvious limitations. It is important therefore to use physiologically relevant models in which tumours arise and mature in their natural environment. In this way, tumour cells directly and spatially co-evolve with stromal fibroblasts, immune cells and the endothelium recapitulating a more accurate tumour microenvironment, are exposed to metabolic limiting conditions, and have to negotiate biological barriers in order to metastasise. Furthermore, many anti-cancer drugs fail in the clinic because although they are effective in simplified tissue culture models, the nuances of taking these drugs into the whole animal setting cannot be ignored.

 Karen Blyth also leads the In Vivo Cancer Biology research group.