Bethany Kerr Laboratory
Cancer/oncogenesis, tumor microenvironment, bone metastasis,
angiogenesis, disseminated tumor cells, biomarkers
Once a localized, primary cancer has
metastasized; the survival rates for patients drop dramatically. Metastatic
tumors, particularly bone metastases, cause pain and mobility difficulties in
patients. However, current diagnostic techniques, particularly for prostate
cancer, are incapable of accurately predicting which patients are likely to
progress to metastasis. Thus, all patients are treated aggressively resulting
in over-diagnosis and over-treatment of clinically insignificant cancers. Effectively
identifying patients at risk of dying from metastatic disease requires
discovering the mechanisms controlling the initiation and progression of bone
Based upon circulating tumor cell
makers previously identified in advanced prostate cancer patients, we are
studying the role of the tyrosine kinase receptor CD117 expression and
activation in tumor growth and metastatic initiation. Examining how cells
degrade the extracellular matrix in the tumor microenvironment and enter the
circulation will provide insights into preventing and diagnosing metastasis.
Homing of Circulating Tumor Cells to Bone
Once cells enter the circulation,
they are exposed to a variety of metabolic and physical stresses. Several
pathways are likely responsible for survival of circulating tumor cells. Beyond
this survival, metastatic tumor cells home to their metastatic niches,
including bone. We are examining how chemotactic factors, such as SCF, the
ligand for CD117, may attract metastatic tumor cells to the bone
microenvironment. Conversely, we also study how primary tumor growth alters the
bone structure in preparation of the future metastatic niche.
Using the mechanisms uncovered,
we aim to discover prognostic biomarkers capable of identifying patients likely
to progress to metastasis. This will allow us to differentiate patients with
indolent disease that may benefit from watchful waiting from those with
aggressive disease that would require more aggressive treatment.
For more information on the lab
Kerr, Bethany A.*, Ranko Miocinovic*, Armine K. Smith, Xiaoxia Z.
West, Katherine E. Watts, Malory E. Weber, Amanda W. Alzayed, Joseph C. Klink,
Maria C. Mir, Tiffany Sturey, Donna E. Hansel, Warren D. Heston, Andrew J.
Stephenson, Eric A. Klein, and Tatiana V. Byzova. CD117+ cells in the circulation are
predictive of advanced prostate cancer. Oncotarget. ePub. Dec 17, 2014. [Read
Kerr, Bethany A., N. Patrick McCabe, Weiyi Feng, and Tatiana V.
Byzova. Platelets Govern Pre-Metastatic
Tumor Communication to Bone. Oncogene.
Kerr, Bethany A. and Tatiana V. Byzova. MicroCT: An Essential Tool in Bone Metastasis
Research. Computed Tomography – Clinical
Applications. Ed. Luca Saba.
InTech, 2012. 211-30. [Read
Feng, Weiyi*, Maria Madajka*, Bethany A. Kerr*, Ganapati H. Mahabeleshwar,
Sidney W. Whiteheart, and Tatiana V. Byzova.
A Novel Role for Platelet Secretion in Angiogenesis: Mediating Bone
Marrow-derived Cell Mobilization and Homing. Blood. 117(14):3893-902. [Read
McCabe, N. Patrick*, Bethany A. Kerr*, Maria Madajka, Amit
Vasanji, and Tatiana V. Byzova.
Augmented Osteolysis in SPARC Deficient Mice with Bone Residing Prostate
Cancer. Neoplasia. 13(1):31-9. [Read Online]
Kerr, Bethany A, Ranko Miocinovic, Armine K. Smith, Eric A. Klein,
and Tatiana V. Byzova. Comparison of
Tumor and Microenvironment Secretomes in Plasma and in Platelets during
Prostate Cancer Growth in a Xenograft Model.
Neoplasia. 12(5):388-96. [Read Online]
Kerr's Pubmed Page