David Bilder, PhD, Wins ASPIRE Award: Lessons from Ancient Mechanisms of Tumor-Host Interactions

February 23, 2023

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research announced twelve outstanding research projects to receive its latest round of ASPIRE awards. Grantees from top academic institutions in Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Spain, and USA were awarded more than $4 million for projects that either aim to answer key feasibility and proof-of-concept questions in an accelerated time frame or seek to build on such demonstrated feasibility / proof-of-concept with a longer duration ASPIRE II Award. Ten ASPIRE awards and two ASPIRE II awards were granted.

Professor of Molecular & Cell Biology David Bilder was named one of the award recipients this year. You can find details of his project below:

The lethal impacts of cancer are not confined to local effects of the growing tumor; they also involve extensive interactions with host tissues. Such interactions, which can either combat disease progression or promote it, are poorly studied compared to tumor growth but have major impacts on morbidity and mortality in patients. Notably, the complex mechanisms underlying host-driven aspects of malignancy can benefit from analysis in simple systems. In this study, David Bilder will use the fruit fly model Drosophila melanogaster to investigate how host tissues respond to the presence of tumors. Their goal is to identify new aspects of the interactions between host tissues and tumors, which can have major impacts on the progression of cancer. The researchers will use a reductionist cancer model in the flies, which shows many host responses to tumors that are similar to those seen in humans, such as cachexia and an immune response. They will investigate how fly tumors evade the immune system, and identify host proteins that are secreted into circulation in response to the presence of a tumor. By studying these interactions in the simple fly system, the researchers hope to identify unappreciated aspects of tumor defense that could be relevant to human cancer.

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research