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Tomer Cooks, PhD

Tomer Cooks, PhD

Grant Status

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Grant Type
Project Grant

Project Title
Fibroblast reprograming by extracellular vesicles from pancreatic tumors with mutant p53

Tumor Types

Research Topics
Pancreatic Cancer

About the Investigator:

Dr. Cooks’ research focuses on the plethora of interactions between a tumor cell and its surroundings, constantly striving to match basic novel molecular mechanisms with innovative translational approaches for the benefit of cancer patients. Dr. Cooks received his BSc and PhD degrees from Tel-Aviv University. Following two postdoctoral fellowships, first at the Weizmann Institute of Science and then at the US National Cancer Institute, he returned to Israel and opened his independent research laboratory at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

About the Research:

Pancreatic cancer remains a devastating challenge for modern medicine and may soon become the second leading cancer-related cause of death in the USA. One of the major challenges in pancreatic cancer treatment remains the normal cells in the cancerous tissue, that are modulated by cancer cells to help promote the spread of malignancy.

The Cooks lab will focus on the communication between pancreatic cancer cells and cells of the surrounding connective tissue that are being “educated” by the tumor cells to promote cancer by altering the local environment. These cancer-associated cells take up small particles shed by the cancer cells, known as extracellular vesicles, which contain messenger molecules that are incorporated into the neighboring fibroblasts, and can reprogram the “normal” cells, affecting the manner in which they generate the pro-tumoral extracellular matrix. Most pancreatic cancer patients carry a mutation in the intensively studied p53 gene, and by characterization of extracellular vesicles released by cancer cells with the p53 mutation, they hope to unravel the molecular mechanisms through which pancreatic cancer cells ‘persuade’ their neighbors to participate in the malignant process. Targeting these mechanisms may open new decision-making opportunities for oncologists.


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