Primary Research Focus
The de la Puente lab is focused on the role of tumor microenvironment (TME) in cancer progression, drug resistance and cancer immunology.
The TME is highly complex including stromal, immune, and endothelial cells, signaling molecules, oxygen tension, and the extracellular matrix. Classical two-dimensional (2D) cultures fail to provide an adequate model for the complexities of human tumors.
Our lab is developing personalized 3D models of the tumor microenvironment in order to more accurately mimic cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions.
Our lab currently focuses on developing three-dimensional models of solid tumors for personalized medicine. Through these culture models, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the role of the tumor microenvironment and their accessory cells during cancer progression, drug resistance and cancer immunology for each individual patient.
About the de la Puente Lab
Lab Projects and News
Role of Tumor Microenvironment of Tumor Progression, Drug Resistance and Immune Escape in Breast
Patient-derived in vitro breast cancer models will be used to study the role of the tumor microenvironment in progression and drug resistance and to screen in vitro drugs to further correlate efficacy with the clinical response in patients.
Role: Project PI. Supported by NIH/NIGMS 5 P20 GM103548-08 (2018-2020).
Elucidate the Role of the Tumor-Stroma Crosstalk in Tumor Progression and Drug Resistance
Engineered TME will be made in our laboratory made of patient’s plasma preserving non-cellular and cellular components from the same patient. We hypothesized that the behavior of cancer cells in the engineered TME will closely mimic the behavior of cancer cells in the patients; and therefore this 3D model will provide better prediction of tumor progression and drug resistance than traditional 2D cultures.
Investigate the Role of TME Physical Features on Cancer Immune Escape
There is evidence that oxygen influences many immune cells. It is thus reasonable to speculate that realistic in vitro models should also be able to recreate hypoxia. We hypothesize that the tumor hypoxia induces structural and cellular changes in the TME that reduces the efficacy of the immune cells to target cancer cells and that targeting hypoxia will sensitize cells to interactions with immune cells.
Translational Research: Personalized Medicine
Our lab is developing personalized 3D models of the tumor microenvironment of cancer patients to retrospectively and prospectively evaluate therapeutic efficacy to cancer treatment. The goal is to enable clinicians to build personalized treatment strategies for individual patients based on the ex vivo drug sensitivity of cancer cells.
Meet the de la Puente Lab Team
Kristin Calar, BChE
Associate Research Specialist
Kristin Calar assists with laboratory management including ordering, compliance and oversight of the cell cultures in the laboratory for experimentation. She assists with analysis using microscopy and flow cytometry methods. She investigates the role of the tumor microenvironment in tumor progression and drug resistance using novel 3D tissue engineered cultures. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry from the University of Minnesota.
Somshuvra Bhattacharya, PhD
Somshuvra Bhattacharya designs study objectives related to cancer models and assists in the completion of grant applications. He performs complex laboratory experiments and interprets results. He writes technical summaries for peer-reviewed publications and prepares formal presentations of research results. He investigates how the tumor microenvironment (TME) niche can modify immune cell efficiency to target cancer cells.
He earned a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from SDSU and a master of pharmacy from Birla Institute of Technology.