Ovarian cancer is still a grave danger to modern society. Factors contributing to this high mortality rate include late diagnosis, ineffective treatment, and a high relapse rate after initial response to conventional therapy. Researchers have found that the highly tumorigenic drug-resistant population of cells in ovarian tumors, which is also named cancer stem-like cells (CSCs), can be linked with high relapse rate. Therefore, targeting those deadly CSCs is a promising way to improve the treatment for ovarian cancer. We previously discovered that an enzyme called protein kinase C iota (PKC iota) is highly linked with human lung cancer, and is required for lung tumor to grow. Thus, we hypothesize that inhibiting PKC iota will be an effective strategy for treating ovarian cancer. To this end, we have identified the FDA-approved drugs, aurothiomalate and auranofin, as potent and selective PKC iota inhibitors. We are currently conducting phase I/II clinical trials of these compounds for treatment of lung and ovarian cancer. In this application, we propose to find how PKC iota promotes the development of ovarian cancer, and we will confirm the link between PKC iota and ovarian CSCs. Finally, we will use our newly-discovered drugs to test their therapeutic effects against ovarian cancer.
This grant was made possible through the generous support of Phil and Judy Messing, in memory of Carol S. Messing.