2016-03-01 / Medical Info

Exploring genomic pathways in the development of ovarian cancer

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey researcher Michael L. Gatza, Ph.D., has received a $747,000 Pathway to Independence Award (R00- CA166228) from the National Cancer Institute to explore the mechanism behind the development of a subtype of ovarian cancer known as high-grade serous ovarian cancer.The aim is to identify what drives cell pathway activity so that novel therapeutic strategies can be developed to treat this disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are expected in 2016, with 14,200 deaths. Ovarian cancer accounts for five percent of cancer deaths among women in the United States, causing more deaths than any other gynecologic cancer. Treatment typically includes surgery and chemotherapy. Targeted therapies have been used following standard treatment for ovarian cancer, but there has been little success in their use.

In this work, Dr. Gatza will analyze multiple forms of genetic data from human tumors in order to identify mutations and alterations that regulate oncogenic signaling, tumor development and progression, and response to therapy. By identifying those genes and mutations that are required for tumor cell growth, Gatza hopes to translate these findings into the clinic by identifying biomarkers that can predict response to current therapies and identify new targets which could be used to develop new drugs and therapeutic strategies.

“By identifying genetic interactions and pinpointing what drives the development of high-grade serous ovarian cancer and what regulates the activity of that pathway, we can develop novel personalized therapy regimens and employ treatment strategies that can address the complex nature of this disease for each individual patient,” notes Gatza, who is part of Rutgers Cancer Institute’s Genome Instability and Cancer Genetics Research Program and is an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The project period runs through August 2018.

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