Centre for Tumour Microenvironment

Welcome to the Centre for Tumour Microenvironment (TME) where our main mission is to discover how to exploit the TME in the control of cancer growth and spread. We conduct state-of-the-art research into the TME, bringing together internationally-recognised scientists and clinicians. Our central aim is to understand the biology of the human TME using novel and relevant in vitro and in vivo models in research that is always led by information from patient samples and clinical problems. We aim to harness this knowledge to identify new treatment strategies. Working closely together with our Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine we are well-placed to implement our findings in clinical practice. Our Centre is embedded in one of the UK’s top medical schools thus offering excellent opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations.

Contact us

Centre Lead: Professor Kairbaan Hodivala-Dilke

Deputy Centre Lead: Professor Fran Balkwill

3rd Floor, John Vane Science Centre,
Charterhouse Square,
London EC1M 6BQ

Recent Publications

  • A 3D tumour microenvironment regulates cell proliferation, peritoneal growth and expression patterns. Biomaterials (2019) 190-191:63-75. PMID: 30396040
  • Regional activation of Myosin II in cancer cells drives tumour progression via a secretory cross-talk with the immune microenvironment. Cell (2019) 176(4):757-774. PMID: 30712866
  • Tumor angiogenesis is differentially regulated by phosphorylation of endothelial cell focal adhesion kinase tyrosines-397 and -861. Cancer Res (2019) pii: canres.3934.2018. PMID: 31189647
  • Chemotherapy elicits pro-metastatic extracellular vesicles in breast cancer models. Nature Cell Biology (2019) 21(2):190-202. PMID: 30598531
  • Deconstruction of a Metastatic Tumor Microenvironment Reveals a Common Matrix Response in Human Cancers.  Cancer Discov (2018) 8(3):304-319. PMID: 29196464
  • 3 versus 6 months of adjuvant oxaliplatin-fluoropyrimidine combination therapy for colorectal cancer (SCOT): an international, randomised, phase 3, non-inferiority trial. Lancet Oncol (2018) 19(4):562-578. PMID: 29611518

Latest News

  • Congratulations to Professor Fran Balkwill who has been announced as the 2021 winner of the Beetlestone Award, which recognises leadership and legacy in the field of informal science learning. Find out more.
  • Teams of researchers led by Professor Fran Balkwill and Dr Oliver Pearce have built two 3D multi-cellular models of the human tumour microenvironment (TME) in ovarian cancer. The models, which are the first created from the CanBuild project, have revealed novel insights into the role of the TME in cancer progression. Find out more.
  • A study led by Professor Fran Balkwill published in Cancer Immunology Researcha journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, found that chemotherapy enhances the anti-tumour actions of immune cells within the TME and their ability to support immune responses against cancer. Read the news story.
  • A study led by Professor Victoria Sanz-Moreno, published in Nature Communications, has revealed novel insights into the mechanisms employed by melanoma cells to form tumours at secondary sites around the body. Read the news story.

Areas of focus

ECM and adhesion
CD68+ tumour associated macrophages (brown) within a human high-grade serous ovarian cancer omental metastasis
3D modelling of tumour microenvironments
3D printed scaffold seeded with patient-derived mesothelial cells Red: Calretinin Magenta: Vimentin Green: Cytoskeleton Blue: Nuclei
Blood vessels and CAFs
Immunofluorescence staining of cancer-associated fibroblasts from a human pancreatic cancer
Overcoming therapy resistance
Localisation of versican (VCAN) mRNA (Red) around the tumour border leads to a limitation of CD8+ T cell (Blue) movement into the tumour island