New Tool Could Speed Development of Ovarian Cancer Drugs

(February 13, 2015) University of Chicago Medicine researchers, including OCRF grantee and Scientific Advisory Committee member Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, have built a model system that uses multiple cell types from patients to rapidly test compounds that could block the early steps in ovarian cancer metastasis. Their three-dimensional cell-culture system, adapted for high-throughput screening, has enabled them to identify small molecules that can inhibit adhesion and invasion, preventing ovarian cancers from spreading to nearby tissues.

The study, published online February 5, 2015, in the journal Nature Communications, is the first to describe a high-throughput screening drug-discovery platform for ovarian cancer that mimics the structural organization and function of human tissue. The model reconstructs the surfaces of the omentum and the peritoneum, membranes that line the abdominal cavity, which are the most frequent sites of ovarian cancer metastasis.

“Visualizing how cancer cells interact with a tumor microenvironment that accurately reflects the complex biology of ovarian cancer should help us understand the mechanisms underlying metastatic progression as well as identify new therapeutics that can inhibit this process,” said Dr. Lengyel.

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