Accumulating evidence suggest that the proliferative, invasive, and immune tolerance mechanisms that malignant tumors use to establish a nutrient supply and evade the host immune response, originate from those used by the developing placenta during normal pregnancy. In addition to the shared capacity for invading through normal tissues, both cancer cells and cells of the developing placenta create a microenvironment supportive of both immunologic privilege and angiogenesis.
The long-term goal of our laboratory is to understand the mechanisms by which the placenta develops its blood supply. We have found evidence that specific immune cell populations secrete factors that contribute to placental development and angiogenesis. Identifying cells and secreted proteins that support placental development will lead to the development of innovative approaches to prevent diseases associated with aberrant placentation such as Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR).
We are currently investigating animal models of human cancer and pregnancy in correlation with human tissues. Our approach is based on newly developed in vivo assays (in mice) that allow us to analyze the angiogenic potential of immune cells, using flow cytometry and fluorescent imaging.On the molecular level we utilize high throughput genome wide screening of mRNA expression using microarray chips. The laboratory involves close collaborations with the Department of Molecular Genetics in the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,University of Toronto, Canada, including exchange of students, knowledge and scientific tools.
Ofer Fainaru MD, PhD, Shay Hantisteanu MSc, Motti Hallak MD
IVF Unit, Laboratory for Reproductive and Cancer Immunology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, Hadera, Israel