Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology

Anna-Karin Olsson research group

Tumor Vascular Biology

Cancer is a systemic disease and mortalities are mainly caused by metastasis, deep vein thrombosis and a general organ failure. These complications all involve a tumor-induced interplay with the vasculature, both in the primary tumor as well as in peripheral organs. We aim to get a better understanding of this tumor-vessel interface, with the ultimate goal to improve current cancer therapy and to reduce adverse events caused by the disease or current treatment strategies. We are also exploring how tumor vessels can be targeted to treat cancer.

A main interest in the lab is the mechanism by which platelets promote angiogenesis, tumor progression and metastasis. Cancer patients commonly display elevated platelet activation and suffer from increased risk of thromboembolic complications. This highlights the potential benefit of keeping platelet activity as low as possible in cancer patients, without increasing the risk of bleedings.

We are also interested in the genetic and molecular mechanisms responsible for deregulated blood vessel formation. We have previously identified histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG) as en endogenous regulator of tumor vascularization. Using various genetic models we address the mechanism(s) of action of this plasma protein.

One of our projects is focused on the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines directed specifically at molecules expressed by tumor vessels. A main advantage of targeting the tumor vessels is that they have not developed the same immune escape mechanisms as the tumor cells.  In addition, the vasculature has a more stable genetic composition and is easily accessible for the immune system.