Dr Pipsa Saharinen aims to better understand the mechanisms by which tumours obtain access to the body's blood supply and spread. Inhibiting these mechanisms might ultimately lead to a treatment that stops cancer from spreading.
Pipsa Saharinen is an associate professor at the University of Helsinki. Her lab focuses on the stability of blood vessels, in both health and disease.
For a tumour to grow beyond a certain size it needs to be connected to the blood supply. Once this happens the cancer cells also have a route to escape and travel to other organs in the body. At this stage cancer is much more difficult to treat so it's vital that we find ways to stop this from happening.
Dr Pipsa Saharinen and her team at the University of Helsinki recently discovered molecular mechanisms that cause blood vessels to become unstable. This "vessel leakiness" is a stepping stone towards new blood vessels developing and is a crucial factor in tumours becoming connected to the blood supply.
Using funding from Worldwide Cancer Research, Dr Saharinen now wants to study in detail these molecular mechanisms, to find a weak spot that can be knocked out to prevent abnormal blood vessels. The hope is that this could ultimately lead to the development of new treatments that can prevent the spread of cancer.
Tumours can both hijack existing blood vessels and grow it's own new blood supply. The new tumour blood vessels tend to be a "leaky" and a lot less ordered than healthy blood vessels.