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The Tumor Heterogeneity Group

Anders Ståhlberg research group

Cells have a remarkable ability to respond to internal and external stimuli in a specific manner. Yet, cells are in many aspects unique in their characteristics also within a seemingly homogenous population. Cells of the same type show highly variable responses to identical stimuli in tissues and organs. Therefore are investigations at the single cell level of fundamental importance to understand biological processes, in particular tumor development. The limited understanding of tumor heterogeneity is caused by the lack of analytical techniques to study individual cells in detail. Furthermore, responses from anticancer drugs are evaluated at cell population level, but would benefit from detailed studies at the single cell level to show their effects on different subpopulations of tumor cells. Gene expression profiling, maybe the most powerful technique to characterize tumors, is generally performed on samples that contain tens of thousands of cells. Consequently, samples constitute mixes of different cell types present in unknown proportions. Such studies will neither reveal heterogeneity within cell types nor important correlations in gene expression between cells. The need for single-cell analysis to understand tumor heterogeneity and the dynamic transition between cell states has been recognized for a long time, but analytical techniques to detect and quantify few transcripts per cell have been missing. We have developed high-throughput platforms and methodology for single-cell analysis. The focus of our research is on human sarcomas caused by specific fusion oncogenes, including Myxoid liposarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. We are particular interested in understanding cell transition mechanisms between cancer stem cells, expansion phase cells and senescent cells in tumors. In collaboration, we are also studying breast and brain tumors at the single-cell level. In the short-term perspective we expect that our research will reveal fundamental information about tumor origin, tumor cell diversity and deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms in sarcoma development. Ultimately, this will contribute to the development of novel treatment paradigms and a more precise diagnosis and prognosis of cancer patients. Specific projects include:

• To define tumor cell hierarchy and to determine key cell fate decisions
• Functional single-cell analysis
• Functional understanding of drug resistance in tumors
• Development of multi-analyte analysis in the same single-cell
• Development of tumor bioreactors for next generation drug test systems
• Implementation of non-invasive methods: circulating tumor cells and circulating cell-free tumor DNA

We have openings for ambitious master thesis students (30/60 credit) with an interest in one or several of the following areas: tumor biology, molecular biology, cell biology, single-cell analysis, molecular biotechnology and bioinformatics.


Autumn 2014: Postdoc/Researcher open position


Group members

Anders Ståhlberg, PhD, Associate Professor
Thomas Kroneis, Assistant Professor (VINNMER fellow)
Daniel Andersson, postdoc
David Svec
, Postdoc
Amin Forootan, MSc, PhD student
Soheila Dolatabadi, MSc, PhD student
Nina Akrap, associated PhD student
Joakim Karlsson, associated PhD student


Sidansvarig: Dan Baeckström|Sidan uppdaterades: 2014-09-09

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