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Our Lab is a health science research group at Simon Fraser University. SFU's Faculty of Health Sciences offers one of Canada’s most comprehensive and integrated programs and has a strong reputation for producing world-class innovative research. For more information please click here

We are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying an organism’s response environmental stimuli including environmental contaminants and hypoxia. One avenue of research concerns how environmental sensors such as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and its partner the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator mediate endocrine disruption in response to exposure to ubiquitous environmental contaminants.

A more recent endeavor examines how hypoxia, or low oxygen "promotes" metastasis in cancer. We have identified an unrecognized mode of regulation of hypoxia-controlled gene expression and we intend to exploit this to develop better therapeutic anti-cancer agents and strategies. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF’s) regulate gene expression in response to low oxygen tension. This includes the formation of new vasculature, and the biochemical transformation of cancer cells into more lethal, metastatic forms. Our evidence suggests that the retinoblastoma protein, Rb, attenuates the physiological response to hypoxia by HIF’s. Mutations that eliminate Rb function cause uncontrolled HIF activity and promote the formation of new blood vessels and tumour progression. In addition, loss of Rb leads to aggressive cellular behaviour in the human breast and prostate cancer cell lines. The hypothesis that our lab is pursuing is that loss of Rb results in uncontrolled expression of hypoxia-regulated factors. Targeting the factors regulating the growth of vasculature has been an attractive strategy for the development of therapies in cancer. However, these approaches are limited. If we are to improve therapies that fight cancer progression, we must ultimately target the multiple factors regulating metastasis including cell invasion.

Latest News
Aug. 26, 2014

Sam Khakshour is going to give a presentation at 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Chicago

Jun. 20, 2014

Congrats. to Dr. Beischlag for publishing 3 new papers in the last couple of month.

Jan. 8, 2014

Mark Labrecque, one of only five recipients from across Canada awarded a PCC graduate studentship of $40,000 for outstanding graduate students conducting prostate cancer research.