Most solid tumors exhibit areas of both chronic and acute hypoxia, all of them evolving dynamically as a function of cellular growth, vascularization, oxygen consuming metabolism and therapy response. Tumor hypoxia, generally far below 1% oxygen, correlates with increased recurrence rates and decreased survival rates in most cancers, so the recent review by HypOxystation users Rey et al. describing “Molecular Targeting of Hypoxia in Radiotherapy”  gives a valuable overview of the mechanisms cancer cells have developed to respond to hypoxia.

Dr. Rey of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada, and his co-authors Luana Schito, Marianne Koritzinsky and Brad Wouters have contributed vastly to our knowledge about the cellular response to hypoxia in the context of tumor behavior. Since 2009, they have acquired 4 HypOxystations for their lab, in order to culture cells under conditions which authentically mimic the physiological environment of cancer. The HypOxystation provides a closed workstation format for rigorous control of oxygen, CO2, temperature and humidity, facilitating accurate regulation of cell culture conditions as the in vivo tumor situation is simulated. An extensive list of publications from our HypOxystation users spans the whole breadth of research into metabolic, epigenetic and therapeutic implications of hypoxia.

In their 2016 review, Rey et al. describe the cellular response to the complex interplay of temporal and spatial variations in oxygen levels, and the rippling effects exerted on vascular, stromal and immunological responses. Drilling down into the minutiae of O2 -dependent epigenetic control as chromatin itself senses oxygen, the authors were able to draw upon a wealth of results on DNA methylation  and microRNA processing via DICER from their own lab. Equally, research into HIF expression and  metabolism under hypoxia from Dr. Wouter’s lab provided first-hand insights into the mechanisms decreasing the efficacy of radiotherapy outlines in their review. The authors conclude that, “Deconvolving the pathobiological drivers underlying microenvironmental hypoxic tumor heterogeneity constitutes an absolute requirement for the development of safe and effective individualized therapies.”

This review by Rey et al. is a striking example of the explosive expansion of data on “Hypoxia and the Hallmarks of Cancer”. HypOxygen aims to be a partner to labs seeking to provide the most physiological, hypoxic environment for cancer cell culture.

Visit us here to find out more about Dr. Wouters’ work with the HypOxystations in his lab.