Award Recipient 
Michael D’Avirro Fellowship in Molecular Oncology Research 2016

Claudin-2 as a prognostic and therapeutic target in breast and colorectal cancer liver metastasis

September 2016

Cancer is still the leading cause of death among Canadians, with metastatic cancers accounting for over 90% of those deaths. The liver is a common site of metastasis, with breast and colorectal cancers (CRC) being two of the most common that spread to this organ. Breast and CRC patients with unresectable hepatic metastases have a 5-year survival rate of respectively 5.5–8.5% and less than 2%. Therefore, there is a pressing need to identify novel regulators of liver metastases.

We have previously demonstrated that levels of a protein called claudin-2 are enriched in liver metastatic lesions of breast cancer patients. Our recent data, generated using pre-clinical animal models, reveal that claudin-2 also mediates CRC metastasis to the liver. Thus, claudin-2 is apotential target in the management of liver-metastatic disease. We will 1) generate an inducible system to inactivate claudin-2 in breast and CRC and 2) develop therapeutic agents that target claudin-2.

This project will address two challenges facing patients with liver metastatic cancers, including
1) the identification of mechanisms that drive cancer growth and metastasis in the liver
and 2) develop novel agents to reduce mortality associated with liver metastatic cancers.Cavin Wong


Mireille Dessureault
Department of Medicine, McGill University
PhD Student, Laboratory of Dr. Peter Siegel