The research of Daniel D. Billadeau, Ph.D., evolves from a long-standing interest in the mechanisms that control normal and abnormal cell growth. Many of the proteins involved in normal cellular processes are mutated or hijacked during pathological situations, resulting in immunodeficiency or cancer.
Understanding the consequences of these changes in the context of normal and abnormal cellular activity will ultimately lead to a better understanding of their normal cellular roles, but also may lead to the identification of novel targets for better treatment of human diseases such as cancer, immunodeficiency and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Development of novel mouse models of pancreatic cancer to understand the role of a protein in tumor development and sensitivity to chemotherapy
- Discovery of new targets in pancreatic cancer with the aim of developing new anti-cancer molecules for testing in animal models and human cancers
- Uncovering the proteins and signaling pathways that contribute to pancreatic cancer stem cell self-renewal and chemoresistance
- Understanding the immune system using genetic knockout mouse models and in vitro human cell systems, with an emphasis on T cell and natural killer cell biology and their role in immunodeficiency
- Elucidating the function of molecules involved in receptor trafficking that contribute to normal and pathological disease states
Significance to patient care
Pancreatic cancer remains an incurable disease. Thus, a more mechanistic understanding of the biology of the disease will likely lead to the identification of targets that can be used in therapy.
In fact, recent work in Dr. Billadeau's laboratory on a kinase that regulates pancreatic cancer cell survival and growth has resulted in a clinical trial using a novel small molecule inhibitor of this kinase. Moreover, efforts by Dr. Billadeau and his team aimed at identifying new targets in cancer stem cells may lead to better treatment options that would eliminate this chemoresistant population of cancer cells.