Ovarian cancer stem cell study puts targeted therapies within reach

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have identified a key link between stem cell factors that fuel ovarian cancer's growth and patient prognosis. The study, which paves the way for developing novel targeted ovarian cancer therapies, is published online in the current issue of Cell Cycle.

Lead author Yingqun Huang, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, and her colleagues have demonstrated a connection between two concepts that are revolutionizing the way cancer is treated.

First, the "cancer stem cell" idea suggests that at the heart of every tumor there is a small subset of difficult-to-identify that fuel the growth of the bulk of the tumor. This concept predicts that ordinary therapies typically kill the bulk of tumor cells while leaving a rich environment for continued growth of the stem cell tumor population.

The second concept, dubbed "seed and soil," defines a critical role for the tumor cells' "microenvironment," which is the special environment required for cancer cell growth and spread.

"Both concepts have particular relevance for the treatment of adult solid tumors such as ovarian cancer, which has been notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat," said co-author Nita J. Maihle, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, & Reproductive Sciences and a member of Yale Cancer Center. "Ovarian cancer patients are plagued by recurrences of tumor cells that are resistant to chemotherapy, ultimately leading to uncontrolled cancer growth and death."

In this study, Huang and her colleagues were able to define a molecular basis for the interplay between these two concepts in ovarian cancer. They did this by using sophisticated gene sequencing methods to demonstrate a regulatory link between the stem cell factor Lin28 and the signaling molecule bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4).

"These results are supported by the latest molecular prognosis data, which also suggest an active role for the tumor microenvironment in ovarian carcinogenesis," said Huang and Maihle. "Together these studies reveal new targets for the development of cancer therapies."

More information: Cell Cycle Vol. 12, Issue 1

Related Stories

Ovarian cancer stem cells identified, characterized

Apr 17, 2008

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have identified, characterized and cloned ovarian cancer stem cells and have shown that these stem cells may be the source of ovarian cancer’s recurrence and its resistance to chemotherapy.

Ovarian cancer stem cells targeted in new research

Oct 05, 2012

Ovarian cancer takes the lives of nearly 900 Australian women each year. It's called the silent killer because by the time most cases are detected, the cancer has spread to other vital organs throughout the abdominal area.

Recommended for you

Understanding your kidney tumor in 3D

36 minutes ago

Most patients rely on their doctors to decipher the black, white and gray images on their CT scans. But what if a patient could instead hold a 3D model made from the CT image in his hands? Suddenly, the picture ...

Biomarker in aggressive breast cancer identified

14 hours ago

Two Northwestern University scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, ...

MRI better detects recurrent breast cancer

15 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Single-screening breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) detects 18.1 additional cancers after negative findings with mammography and ultrasonography (US) per 1,000 women with a history of breast ...

Natural (born) killer cells battle pediatric leukemia

Aug 19, 2014

Researchers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have shown that a select team of immune-system cells from patients with leukemia can be multiplied in the lab, creating an army of natural killer cells that ...

User comments