Platelets mediate blood-clotting events necessary for the cessation of bleeding (haemostasis). Other functions include release of growth factors, angiogenic factors and immunomodulatory cytokines of importance in wound healing, inflammation and immunity.
In addition to their protective roles, evidence suggests that the activation of platelets and the coagulation system have a crucial role in the metastatic progression of cancer and in supporting the tumour vasculature. Our laboratory is interested in better understanding the role of platelets in cancer progression.
Another interest in our laboratory lies in understanding the molecular pathways that regulate platelet production and function in health and disease, predominantly in the context of cell death. We are now building on our recently published characterisation of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic machinery in megakaryocytes.
Lab focus: platelet biology and cancer
Platelets are the blood cells that protect us from bleeding to death when we suffer a cut or other injury, quickly forming a plug that seals the wound. Our research seeks to decipher the mechanisms controlling platelet production, in the hope of finding new strategies to prevent life-threatening platelet deficiencies. In contrast to their protective roles, platelets are also involved in pathological thrombus formation during heart attack and stroke, and contribute to tumour metastasis.
We aim to increase our understanding about the changes that occur in platelets during cancer progression in order to identify selective ways to target tumour-promoting properties, while preserving essential platelet functions.