Moran Amit, M.D., Ph.D.
Areas of Research
- Neural Regulation of Cancer Research
- Tumor Microenvironment Research
- Head and Neck Cancer Research
Welcome to the Amit Laboratory. We are a neuroscience and cancer biology research lab. Our goal is to advance the current understanding of the nervous system’s contribution to cancer. We have established experimental models in neuroscience research to uncover novel mechanisms used by the nervous system to promote tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. We apply these tools to study complex biological processes that occur in human cancers including transformation, invasion, metastasis and chemoresistance evolution.
Meet the Principal Investigator
Moran Amit, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Amit's aim is to inform key areas of cancer research, including the prevention and treatment of solid tumors. His research focuses on mechanisms used by the nervous system to promote tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis.
Dr. Amit holds a clinical background as a head and neck surgeon trained in the department of Head and Neck Surgery, and he obtained a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.
He was recruited by the Department of Head and Neck Surgery to establish a Neural Regulation of Cancer section in a research program dedicated to studying the tumor microenvironment. He has developed novel modeling systems of the neural niche in the tumor microenvironment both in vitro and in vivo using syngeneic mouse models and imaging systems. He also has significant prior publications defining the role of immune cells in cancer dissemination along nerves.
Dr. Amit's long-term goal is to unveil the microenvironment-driven mechanisms that support tumor growth and to develop measures to target these pathways.
Our research focus is split evenly between experimental cancer cell biology and studying tumor microenvironment subpopulations using computational biology approaches. We develop new experimental methods to isolate and sequence neural niche subpopulations and apply analytical approaches to study how solid tumors sculpt their microenvironment. We focus mainly on head and neck cancer to understand the role of the peripheral nervous system in the evolution of invasion, metastasis, and response to chemotherapy. Our goal is to understand the role of neural signaling in tumor evolution so that we can exploit these signals for therapeutic vulnerabilities and enhance cancer therapy. We fully expect that applying these tools to patients will ultimately inform key areas of cancer research including the prevention and treatment of head and neck cancer.
Amit Lab featured in Nature
Dr. Moran Amit and his colleagues show that head and neck cancer cells can manipulate nearby nerve cells into promoting tumor growth. The researchers find that the cancer cells secrete vesicles containing small RNA molecules (microRNAs) that are taken up by nearby sensory nerve cells. If the cancer cells have a mutant form of the p53 protein, then the vesicles secreted do not feature a microRNA that blocks neuronal growth. As a result, the vesicles promote the proliferation of nerve cells and reprogram them to be adrenergic neurons, which aids tumor growth.