Philip Owens, PhD


Tumor Progression, Invasion and Metastasis.

Tumor Microenvironment.

Cytokines and Growth Factors.

Breast and Prostate Cancers.

Veterans Cancer Care.​


​Bone Morphogenetic Proteins in cancer metastasis


University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Pathology Department, Aurora, CO

Program objectives

To determine whether targeting the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) pathway in metastatic cancers can be effective in both the cancer and its surrounding microenvironment.

Program description

Current areas of focus include:

*The role of BMP signaling in tumor induced bone disease.

*The role of BMP signaling in tumor associated lymphatics.

*The role of BMP signaling in tumor associated myeloid cells.

Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMP) are members of the Transforming Growth Factor b (TGFb) family of growth factors and cytokines. The actions of BMPs can elicit many cellular transformation in development and disease. BMPs are most widely known for their original discovery at the promotion of bone formation, however they are appreciated as factors that can influence almost every cell type in the body and are frequently dysregulated in diseases such as cancer. BMPs can influence how cancer cell migrate, proliferate, survive and change their fundamental identity to promote or suppress hallmarks of cancer. BMPs are secreted factors that can also exert changes in the surrounding tumor microenvironment. The cells of the tumor microenvironment can be much more than the immune system and specialized sites of metastasis will create unique signaling with BMPs such as when breast or prostate cancers colonize the bone.

The Owens lab uses genetic and pharmacologic tools to study BMP function in models of metastasis. Our lab hope to uncover how diverse populations of cell in distinct niche metastatic microenvironments can be treated by modulating the BMP pathway.

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