Welcome to the Lee Lab
My lab is studying extracellular vesicles (EVs), often called exosomes, for their roles in cancer development, progression and response to treatment, with a focus on Urology cancers such as bladder and prostate cancers.
This is a relatively new and exciting area of research: small vesicles, in size ranging from 30-250 nm, are secreted by almost all types of cells and contain bio-information (such as DNA, RNA and proteins) resembling the cells of origins. They travel distances via circulation, and can be taken up by recipient cells, consequently affecting their behavior. The genetic and molecular contents of EVs can become an attractive resource of biomarkers for prediction of disease and response to therapy.
In my lab, we have isolated EVs from cancer cell lines and urine and blood of patients with bladder cancer at different stages. Via miRNA array, gene array, and proteomics, we are aiming to identify the signature protein profiles that can be used for disease prognosis. Through the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system, we have attempted to inhibit cancer growth by targeting EV biogenesis pathways in cancer cells.
We are also studying potential involvement of EV secretion in response to two treatments that often apply in bladder cancer: BCG immunotherapy for superficial bladder cancer, and cisplatin chemotherapy for muscle invasive bladder cancer. Since the EVs are quite small - the size of a virus - we utilize the Nanosight nanoparticle tracking system, which allow us to trace and monitor EVs based on the Brownian motion of each single particle in a real time manner. In collaborations with URMC investigators, in addition to our participation in the SWOG S1602 clinical trial, we’ve started to collect and analyze patients’ urine- and blood-borne EV profiles before, during, and after therapy. Our goal is to establish rapid body fluid biopsy assays that can be used as indicators of patients’ responsiveness to therapy. The molecular/genetic contents within EVs from each individual patient could provide an opportunity to develop precision, personalized medicine in the future.