Dr. Atreyi Dasgupta is a cancer biologist trained in cell signaling and transcriptional regulation. Her research focuses on bone cancer in children, particularly Ewing sarcoma, which is the second most prevalent type of pediatric bone cancer. Each year, around 250 patients in the United States are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. Among these patients, those who present with metastatic disease have a very dismal 5 year survival rate - around 25% - even after a harsh therapy regimen. Her research is motivated by this tragic statistic.
She is a member of the Bone Tumor Research Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, among the largest and most comprehensive centers of its type in the nation. Together with patients, parents and clinicians, her role as a scientist is to strive toward bridging basic research with the therapeutic needs of children facing a Ewing sarcoma diagnosis. In the laboratory, we are currently working with novel model systems using patient-derived tumors grown in mice and unique metastatic cell lines that the laboratory has developed.
The laboratory's research is driven by questions such as: What destines a cancer cell (or cluster of cells) to a particular distal organ? How are the normal cells in that organ ultimately recruited by the cancer cells for their own growth? What mediates this communication between different cell types?
A deeper understanding of these questions may help find critical molecules and pathways to target. Ultimately, her goal is to translate research into therapeutic interventions in clinical settings and bridge the critical gap for children with metastatic Ewing sarcoma.
At the Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center, where she currently conducts research, she implements her expertise, particularly in the context of metastasis. The laboratory is uniquely positioned to foster an understanding of the disease within its clinical relevance. This is possible due to a mix of clinicians and researchers working in tandem, with a strong culture of exchange of ideas and excitement around science in general. We strive to achieve an understanding of the molecular biology of the development and metastatic progression and growth of Ewing sarcoma, and ultimately progress towards discovering new therapeutic targets. Although there has been some reprieve for the localized disease, there has been very little improvement for those presenting with a metastatic disease. Dr. Dasgupta is focusing her research goals right there, using innovative and novel model systems that they have developed. Her extensive molecular biology and cell signaling knowledge-base, technical skills, exposure to various solid tumor models acquired over years of training, and her keen understanding of how context matters in cancer biology has been invaluable in achieving these specific goals.