Metastatic ProgressionThe focus of our lab is discovering the mechanisms controlling the initiation and progression of bone metastasis.  Using these uncovered metastatic process we hope to design novel diagnostic tests to identify patients likely to progress to metastasis and to develop treatments to prevent or slow bone metastasis.

Our prior and current work focuses specifically on prostate cancer. Primary prostate cancer tumors use the circulation to acquire proteins and bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) to support tumor cell proliferation and blood vessel growth. In addition, cancer stem cells are mobilized into the circulation resulting in bone metastasis. Our goal is to understand what cells and proteins the tumor uses to signal to the bone to prepare for metastasis.

The Projects

  • CD117 Signaling as a Mechanism of Prostate Cancer Metastasis

Based upon cancer stem cell markers we previously identified in patients, we are studying the role of the tyrosine kinase receptor CD117 expression and activation on prostate cancer cell growth and mobilization. Using sorted prostate cancer cells, we are testing how CD117 expression affects primary tumor growth, premetastatic bone turnover, and cancer stem cell mobilization into the circulation.

  • Developing New Spontaneous Bone Metastasis Models

In collaboration with the Orthopaedic Research Department, we are using porcine, decellularized trabecular bone to create a bone microenvironment in mice. Using syngeneic prostate cancer cells we are studying bone colonization during metastasis.

  • Platelet TSP-1 and TGF-β1 in Prostate Cancer-Induced Bone Remodeling

We have demonstrated that platelets are required for tumor-induced bone remodeling in preparation for future metastasis. Using total and platelet-specific knockout mice, we are examining the role of the TSP-1/TGF-β1 signaling axis in primary tumor growth and premetastatic bone turnover.

  • Platelet Sequestered Tumor Markers and Circulating Stem Cells in Prostate Carcinoma

In collaboration with clinicians, we are identifying possible biomarkers for advanced prostate cancers. Using patient blood samples before and after tumor resection we are measuring the levels of circulating cancer stem cells and tumor-derived proteins in circulating platelets. Markers of cancer presence will be absent in the samples after tumor resection. With this method, we can also examine markers of cancer recurrence and metastasis in patients who experience disease progression.

Lab Mission Statement

Doing good, translational science with near-term patient impact while training the next generation of young scientists.

Funding for the Kerr Lab

NIH/NCI Pathway to Independence Award K99/R00 CA175291 2/1/14-11/30/18

WFUSOM CTSI Ignition Fund 12/20/16-3/10/17

NIH/NCI Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA F32 CA 142133 1/1/11-3/15/13


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