Our research team has a long-standing interest in understanding the molecular and cellular basis of non-melanoma skin cancer. This work is based heavily on the development and characterization of novel mouse models of disease, complemented by analysis of human tissue samples and cell lines. Our current work addresses two types of non-melanoma skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer; and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare but highly aggressive form of skin cancer, linked in many cases to a viral infection.
Our BCC research centers upon defining the roles of deregulated activation of the Hedgehog pathway, and interacting signaling pathways, in the initiation and expansion of BCC and related tumors; mechanisms underlying BCC tumor heterogeneity, including pigmentation; and the determinants of BCC treatment response and tumor dormancy.
Our MCC studies are dissecting the viral pathogenesis of this rare and deadly skin cancer. We have recently generated the first mouse model of MCC and are advancing this model to preclinical studies aimed at improving outcomes for MCC patients.
- “Cell fate decisions in Merkel cell carcinoma initiation and maintenance”. Multi-PI: AA Dlugosz/M Verhaegen (NIH-National Cancer Institute; 5R01 CA241947)
- “The Aging Cutaneous Microenvironment and Cancer Initiation”. Multi-PI: G Fisher/T Quan/AA Dlugosz (NIH-National Institute on Aging; U01 CA263680)
- “Modeling Virus-Associated Merkel Cell Carcinoma in Mice Using Viral DNA Regulatory Sequences”. PI: AA Dlugosz (DoD-Department of the Army; W81XWH2210980)