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BBB seminar: Ola Myklebost

Biological studies of mesenchymal oncogenesis


Ola Myklebost
Department of Tumor Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo

Sarcomas are largely tumours showing traits of connective tissues, such as bone, cartilage, fat and others. The tissues originate from the mesenchyme, the group of cells that during embryogenesis migrates into the inner part of the embryo. Our current hypothesis is that these cancers arise from mesenchymal stem or progenitor cells, and we are searching for genetic aberrations and biological mechanisms that can explain the processes of sarcoma development and progression. One of the important questions today is if the tumours are generated by a low number of slowly proliferating, stem-like cells, that give rise to more, and perhaps terminally, differentiated parts of the tumours.

In particular, we have identified genes that are amplified or deleted in these tumours using in-house high-resolution genomic microarray technology. We are now trying to understand the function of some of these candidate onco- or tumour suppressor proteins. For this purpose, we are developing bone marrow stroma-derived model systems in which we can efficiently study mesenchymal biology. Initially, we are using broad genomic technologies like expression microarrays to identify pathways that are affected by overexpression of candidate protooncogenes, but also yeast two hybrid studies and subcellular localisation studies with tagged proteins are done.

The group of tumours is rather rare, but makes up about 10 % of cancers in young people. This most likely is because this is the period of life when these kinds of tissues grow. The Norwegian Radium Hospital is the national centre of competence for this group of tumours, and we work in close cooperation with the clinical sarcoma program.

Host: Donald Gullberg, Department of Biomedicine

Ola Myklebost is Group Leader at the Department of Tumor Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, and Professor at the Department for Molecular Biosciences at the University of Oslo. He and his group are using functional genomics to characterise mesenchymal oncogenesis, which is the process leading to formation of malignant connective tissue tumours, or sarcomas. The Norwegian Radium Hospital is a national centre of competence in sarcoma diagnosis and treatment, and the research of Ola Myklebost is done in close collaboration with clinicians, both locally and within the Scandinavian Sarcoma Group (http://www.ssg-org.net). Recently, his group became part of European Network of Excellence.