Dr. Ailles and her team are focusing on three major research areas: identification of prognostic biomarkers and novel targets for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients, epigenetics in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), an targeting cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in solid tumors.
i) Identification of prognostic biomarkers and novel targets for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients
Individualized treatment decisions are difficult in HNSCC due to the lack of prognostic and predictive biomarkers. Poor HNSCC survival rates clearly indicate a need for new and better therapies. Ailles and her team are working to identify prognostic biomarkers for patient stratification in HNSCC using genomic characterization of primary tumor tissues in combination with their functional behavior in tumor engraftment assays in immune-compromised mice. They are focused on identifying novel targets, pathways, and candidate drugs for the treatment of the most aggressive HNSCC tumors using patient-derived xenografts.
ii) Epigenetics in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC)
The Ailles team uses primary patient-derived cultures and xenografts to study the epigenetic deregulation occurring in ccRCC. More specifically, they focus on identifying the downstream effects on target genes and pathways, and identifying small molecules with rapid clinical translational potential.
iii) Targeting cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in solid tumors
Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are known to play a role in promoting cancer proliferation, invasion, and chemo-resistance through acquisition of an “activated” state. The Ailles team has developed methods for the isolation of CAFs from primary patient-derived tumors and carried out molecular characterization of these tumours to identify molecular interactions between CAFs and cancer cells that may represent therapeutic targets. They have demonstrated functional heterogeneity within the CAF population, and are continuing to investigate strategies for epigenetic reprogramming of CAFs to a less activated state.
- Senior Research Scientist, Stanford University
- Research Associate, Stanford University
- Postdoctoral fellow, Pathology, Stanford University
- Postdoctoral fellow, Gene Therapy, Institute for Cancer Research, Candiolo, Italy
- PhD, Genetics, University of British Columbia
- Mid-Career Investigator, OICR
- Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
- Assistant Professor, Deptartment of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto
- Ruicci KM, Meens J, Sun RX, …, Ailles L, Nichols AC. A controlled trial of HNSCC patient-derived xenografts reveals broad efficacy of PI3Kα inhibition in controlling tumor growth. Int J Cancer. 2019;145:2100.
- Karamboulas C, Ailles L. Patient-derived xenografts: a promising resource for preclinical cancer research. Mol Cell Oncol. 2019; 6:1558684.
- Karamboulas C, Bruce J, Hope AJ, …, Ailles L. Patient-derived xenografts for prognostication and interrogation of precision medicine in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients. Cell Reports. 2018; In press.
- Lobo N, Gedye C, Apostoli A, …, Ailles L. Efficient generation of patient-matched malignant and normal primary cell cultures from clear cell renal cell carcinoma patients: clinically relevant models for research and personalized medicine. BMC Cancer. 2016; 16:485-499.
- Gedye C, Sirskyj D, Lobo N, …, Ailles LE. Cancer stem cells are underestimated by standard experimental methods in clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Scientific Reports. 2016; 6:25220.
- Apostoli AJ, Ailles L. Clonal evolution and tumor-initiating cells: New dimensions in cancer patient treatment. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016; 20653:40-51.
- Stewart JM, Shaw PA, Gedye C, …, Ailles LE. Phenotypic Heterogeneity and Instability of Human Ovarian Tumor-Initiating Cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011; 108:6468-73.
- Prince ME, Sivanandan R, Kaczorowski A, …, Ailles LE. Identification of a subpopulation of cells with cancer stem cell properties in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007; 104:973-8.
Dr. Ailles’ lab has generated a range of patient-derived resources, including xenografts, cancer-associated fibroblasts and renal cancer cell lines. Inquiries regarding collaborations utilizing these resources are welcome.
Visit OICR’s Collaborative Research Resources directory for more opportunities to collaborate with OICR researchers.