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"The Collagen Landscape in Cancer: Profiling Collagens in Tumors and in Circulation Reveals Novel Markers of Cancer-Associated Fibroblast Subtypes," authored by a team of esteemed researchers including Jeppe Thorlacius-Ussing, Christina Jensen, Neel I. Nissen, Thomas R. Cox, Raghu Kalluri, Morten Karsdal, and Nicholas Willumsen

In the field of tumor fibrosis and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), this paper marks a significant leap forward in our understanding of CAF heterogeneity and the role of collagens in cancer.

CAFs play a pivotal role in tumor progression by depositing and remodeling collagens in the tumor stroma. Understanding CAF heterogeneity and collagen composition is crucial for developing targeted therapeutics to normalize the tumor microenvironment. This study sought to profile collagen expression across multiple levels to identify cancer biomarkers.

The tumor microenvironment (TME) plays a pivotal role in cancer development and therapeutic response. CAFs are activated fibroblasts that influence cancer progression by producing and modifying the extracellular matrix (ECM). Targeting CAFs and normalizing the ECM are emerging strategies in cancer therapy. However, indiscriminate depletion of ECM or CAFs has proven ineffective, making the need to understand CAF heterogeneity and ECM composition even more crucial.

The ECM, particularly collagens, is a major component of the TME. Collagens, the most abundant ECM component, have both cancer-promoting and cancer-restraining activities. To date, most research has focused on type I collagen, but this study emphasizes the broader role of the collagen family in cancer biology. The study's findings could lead to the discovery of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets associated with collagens and fibroblast subtypes.

This research highlights the noncanonical collagen profile expressed by CAFs, with specific collagen subtypes associated with different CAF subtypes in PDAC. These collagens are deregulated at the cellular, tumor, and systemic levels across various solid tumors and are associated with survival outcomes. These findings hold promise for the discovery of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in the fight against cancer.

Read the publication here

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