(October 22, 2018) A team at the University of Illinois at Chicago, including OCRA grantee Matthew Dean, PhD, recently discovered the role that cancer cells have on their immediate environment. The research was funded in part by OCRA. More specifically, they found evidence that ovarian cancer cells formed in the fallopian tube change how the ovary and fallopian tube communicate. When the cancer cells interject, they are able to change the environment to one that is more beneficial to them. Additionally, once those cells alter the communication, norepinephrine levels increase, which helps the cancer cells living in the fallopian tube to travel to the ovary.
Former grantee and co-author of the study Joanna Burdette, PhD, explained that, “the communication between the fallopian tube and the ovary changes as normal fallopian tube cells evolve to become aggressive, particularly when they are in proximity to the ovary.” They hope to continue their research, as they still need to figure out what signals the norepinephrine to be released and how that can help to prevent the spread of the cancer cells in the future.