What do we do?
Our laboratory studies malignant brain cancers and the responses of normal brain cells in presence of tumor cells. This allows us to understand how brain tumors take advantage of their microenvironment to grow and invade the central nervous system.
Our research is focused on the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the brain, which is a scaffold of molecules supporting all normal cells. We investigate the functions of normal ECM molecules in the brain and develop strategies to target abnormal ECM molecules produced by cancer cells.
What are the applications of our research?
Many! Understanding the neural microenvironment and the functions of ECM molecules is critical to understand how brain injuries are propagated and how tumors can grow and invade in the central nervous system. We are currently developing “anti-ECM” experimental therapies to treat and hopefully reverse these diseases.
What are our projects?
Some of the broad questions we try to answer in our lab:
– How do brain tumors change the behavior of normal cells in the brain?
– What mechanisms are used by brain tumor cells to invade the brain, and how can we disrupt them?
– How do brain tumor cells avoid the immune system and resist current treatments?
How do we study this?
Our lab uses state-of-the art methods in cellular and molecular biology, tissue analysis, and animal models. Some of the techniques we use in the lab include: culture of tumor stem cells, intracranial implants, artificial tissue scaffolds, high-resolution microscopy, engineered immune cells, next-generation sequencing, proteomics, and molecular genetics.
Where are we?
The Viapiano Lab is the core laboratory of the SUNY Upstate Brain Tumor Research Group (SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY). Our facilities include the Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, and the Brain Tumor Laboratory and Biorepository in the Department of Neurosurgery. Both laboratories are located in the SUNY Upstate Institute for Human Performance located in the main campus of SUNY Upstate Medical University.