Karen Cowden-Dahl, adjunct assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and member of the Harper Cancer Research Institute, recently received a grant from the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program for her project entitled, “ARID3B Induces CD133-Mediated Homing to the Ovarian Cancer Metastatic Niche.”
Epithelial ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Importantly, over 70% of woman with ovarian cancer will not survive beyond five years of diagnosis. The vast majority of ovarian cancer patients have metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. Patients that undergo surgery and chemotherapy usually respond to the therapy; however, most patients will eventually relapse and succumb to the disease.
Tumor initiating cells (TICs) that express stem cell markers are thought to initiate new tumors contributing to tumor progression and lethality. The central problem the Cowden-Dahl lab studies is to determine how are TICs are recruited to sites where they will initiate new tumor metastases. Her research team has found that a gene called ARID3B is over expressed in the most common type of ovarian cancer (serous) and moderate expression of ARID3B in the nucleus correlates with relapse after chemotherapy.
Future studies are aimed at dissecting how ARID3B promotes tumor growth and regulates expression of TIC genes. Long-term goals of the project are to provide critical information on how ovarian TIC/cancer stem cells interact with their environment during the process of metastasis and to generate evidence supporting the feasibility of targeting TICs as a treatment option. In addition to supporting the research project, the award also includes support for a Teal Scholar post-doctoral fellow. Preliminary data collection for this project was supported in part by a Walther Cancer Foundation Seeding Research in Cancer (SRC) award.
Originally published by Angela Cavalieri at harpercancer.nd.edu on January 05, 2015.