Light On The Ovarian Cancer Horizon

Ovarian cancer discovery identifies potential new therapeutic targets

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sometimes we report on the biology of cancer – the genetic changes that are involved in the development and growth of tumors. Why is this important? Because the more science knows, the more opportunities there are for new and better treatments.

A new study has discovered how healthy cells are recruited and become involved in the growth and spread of ovarian cancer.

This research work opens the door for new therapies to be developed that target and overcome these changes in order to block cancer growth.

"Tell your family doctor about any cancer history."

The study was led by Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago. Ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in more than 22,000 women this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and 15,500 women will die from the disease.

According to Dr. Lengyel, very few advancements have been made in treating this aggressive cancer, and new approaches are “desperately needed.”  He and his colleagues wanted to find out why and how normal stromal cells are transformed into cells called cancer-associated fibroblasts which are found in the tissue surrounding the ovarian cancer cells.

Cross-talk between these cells is apparently the cause of this transformation.

Dr. Lengyel told dailyRx News, “Tumor cells recruit their environment to promote tumor growth. If we can block the communication between tumor and stromal cells we will be able to block cancer cell growth.”

Researchers discovered the transformation involves a set of three microRNAs which direct cell expression and cell function. These microRNAs start the cancer ball rolling by reprogramming the stromal cells into cancer cells.

As such, they could be targets for new drugs.

“Therapeutic approaches targeting microRNAs in cancer cells are under development,” Dr. Lengyel said in a press release. “Our work suggests that it might be possible to modify microRNA expression in cancer-associated fibroblasts for therapeutic benefit.”

The researchers studied human tumor cells for this study, which they say adds to the strength of their findings. This study was published November 21 in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 21, 2012
Last Updated:
November 23, 2012