Investigating how to prevent and reverse resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy

What’s the problem?

Currently the most effective treatment for ovarian cancer is platinum-based chemotherapy, but 70% of women treated with this therapy develop resistance to it, and their cancer comes back.

  • Aim: To find ways to prevent or reverse the development of platinum resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy.
  • Lead: Dr Euan Stronach
  • Scientists funded by Ovarian Cancer Action: Dr Euan Stronach and Professor David Bowtell

What’s the science?

  • Cancer forms in the body when cells multiply more than is normal and destroy other nearby tissues
  • Platinum-based chemotherapy stops cancer cells from multiplying by damaging their DNA
  • But in 70% of cases cancer cells can become resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy
  • The team has found that the genes, STAT1, HDAC4 , DNA-PK and AKT, are involved in the development of platinum resistance in ovarian cancer cells
  • Stopping these genes from working in cancer cells may make platinum-based chemotherapy more effective
  • The team want to know which other genes are involved in the development of platinum resistance and how they interact with one another
  • Every ovarian cancer is different. The team are investigating the biology of different types of ovarian cancers and how this affects whether or not cancer comes back

How will this affect ovarian cancer treatment?

Platinum-based chemotherapy can destroy normal cells as well as cancer cells so simply increasing the dose when resistance occurs is not possible. The team want to develop new treatments that are not toxic to normal tissue but improve patient responses to platinum-based chemotherapy by inhibiting certain genes.

The team is running a clinical trial on the effectiveness of a GlaxoSmithKline AKT inhibitor for patients with relapsed ovarian cancer, find out more here.

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