Nature Cell Biology publishes research by Mount Sinai team led by SWCRF-funded investigator Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D.


The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation congratulates our funded tumor dormancy research investigator Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D., whose team of scientists at Mount Sinai produced a research study that was published in the leading scientific journal Nature Cell Biology.

In this elegant and high profile study, Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso has identified the reason why disseminated cancer cells from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) appear to multiply and form metastases in some tissues like the lung but not in others like the bone marrow. According to Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso’s research, the molecular "decision maker" for the selective development of metastases is TGF beta 2, a signaling protein secreted by the body's own cells, also called a cytokine. The bone marrow secretes high levels of TGF beta 2, which maintains the disseminated cancer cells dormant and in check, preventing growth of metastases. Meanwhile, in the lung where TGF beta 2 is in short supply, the cancer cells go unchecked and rapidly form aggressive tumors. 

This research provides an important look at the body's own mechanism to subdue cancer cells, and by identifying where and how the body's molecular defense system fails, it opens opportunities for the development of therapeutics. Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso’s findings may have important implications in a number of squamous cell cancers, including HNSCC, as well as breast cancer. 

This exciting development is further evidence of the leading-edge science in which the SWCRF invests our supporters’ generous donations as part of our never-ending quest for a cancer cure.

The Mount Sinai blog features a story about this achievement that can be viewed here:

For the full article appearing in Nature Cell Biology, visit