During metastatic spreading, disseminated cancer cells are initially inhibited due to lack of suitable interactions. If disseminated cells fail to overcome this lack of favourable signals, or find antagonistic signals, they will fail to grow. However, they might enter a latent status where they are either in a non-proliferative quiescent state (dormancy) or a indolent state where the rate of cancer cells proliferation is equal to the rate of cell death. Therefore, disseminated cancer cells (DTCs) will not give rise to overt metastasis, but they can reactivate and generate metastasis at a later time point. This represents the clinical phenomenon known as metastatic latency where metastasises occur years after primary tumour resection and treatment. What causes DTCs reactivation is largely unknown.
We are using an in vivo model of dormancy-permissive tissue where metastatic cells are largely kept dormant to investigate what perturbations cause metastatic reactivation.