Ovarian cancer poses a significant clinical challenge. Most women present with later stage disease for which there are no proven and reliable treatments. In addition, chemoresistance, or multidrug resistance is a common feature of most recurrent ovarian cancers. DNA vaccines provide an exciting new possibility for using the body’s own immune system to attack the cancer and/ or the cancer associated vasculature.
The proposed study takes advantage of Dr. Taylor’s mouse model of ovarian cancer to perform research into the use of DNA-based vaccines targeting either the ovarian cancer, the developing cancer associated vasculature, or both, as a new means of treating widely disseminated and drug resistant ovarian cancer. DNA encoding for proteins such as Her2/Neu, a cell surface protein often over expressed in ovarian cancer, will be used as vaccines in order to stimulate immune reactions that should target the tumor cells specifically for cell killing by the animal’s own immune system. The second approach is to design similar vaccines targeting the newly forming cancer associated vasculature, thus starving the cancer cells and causing their ultimate demise.
If successful, this research would provide a proof of principle that DNA vaccines can be an effective mode of treatment in advanced ovarian cancer and recurrent drug resistant ovarian cancer, cancers which to date have proven very resistant to conventional therapies.