Liquid Biopsy: Innovations in liquid biopsy technologies are allowing cancer to be detected and monitored with a simple blood test. The Bratman Lab is inventing and applying new liquid biopsy approaches with a strong focus on circulating cell-free DNA. We have active projects aimed at detecting mutations and epigenetic modifications in cell-free DNA. These new tools have the potential to revolutionize cancer care through earlier detection and more personalized treatments. We hope to also diagnose cancer at earlier stages when treatment is more effective and results in a greater likelihood of cure with fewer side effects. Newman/Bratman et al. Nat Med 2014Han/Leung et al. JCO Precis Oncol 2018; Shen et al. Nature 2018Wang et al. NAR 2019; Shen/Burgener et al. Nat Protoc 2019; Bratman et al. Nat Cancer 2020.




Extracellular DNA: DNA is released by cells through the process of apoptosis and necrosis. Upon entry into the bloodstream, cell-free (extracellular) DNA can be a useful biomarker for cancer (among other applications). Moreover, emerging evidence suggests that extracellular DNA may have roles in cancer progression. Mechanisms of extracellular DNA release and its impact on cancer behavior are poorly understood. The Bratman Lab is studying the molecular composition and biophysical properties of extracellular DNA complexes in order to improve their use for cancer diagnostics and therapy. Inoue et al. Nat Commun 2018Rostami et al. Cell Reports 2020.



Personalized Radiation Medicine: Radiotherapy is a backbone of curative treatment regimens for many cancer types including head and neck cancer, lung cancer, cervix cancer, and breast cancer. Current aggressive treatments are often successful at curing patients but carry significant toxicity risks. Despite differences in tumor responses to radiation, dose prescriptions are not tailored to individual patients. There is a need to identify novel biomarkers and molecular determinants of radiation response so that treatment could be individualized. Through integrative analyses of cellular response to radiation, radiographic images, genome-wide molecular data, and the effects of drug treatments, the Bratman Lab is evaluating new biomarker-informed personalized medicine strategies with the goal of improving cure rates for patients treated with radiotherapy. Kwan et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2018; Manem/Lambie et al. Cancer Res 2019De Michino et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2020.




Head and Neck Cancer: The Bratman Lab has ongoing research projects focused on head and neck cancer (HNC), lung cancer, cervix cancer, and breast cancer (among others), with HNC being of particular interest. HNC is a heterogeneous group of malignancies with distinct etiologies, epidemiologies, molecular features, and clinical behaviors. We strive to improve cancer therapy for HNC by maximizing cures while minimizing toxicity. Our research is uncovering hallmarks of HNC and determinants of cancer progression through integrative analysis of genomic and epigenomic data from tumour tissue and liquid biopsies. Bratman/Bruce et al. JAMA Oncol 2016; Muhanna et al. Sci Rep 2017Karamboulas et al. Cell Rep 2018Lee et al. Clin Transl Radiat Oncol 2019.