Dr. Fang focuses on identifying and targeting small molecules that regulate the development and progression of ovarian cancer. Recently, Dr. Fang identified a novel growth-promoting activity present in ascites of ovarian cancer patients mediated by a small phospholipid, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). Like other biomediators, LPA interacts with cells through receptors on the surfaces of cells, the binding of which leads to cell growth, survival, drug resistance and motility. Dr. Fang’s laboratory also recently found that LPA dramatically induces expression of multiple endogenous chemicals, including VEGF, IL-6 and IL-8, which increase blood vessel growth and promote ovarian cancer tumor progression. Thus, LPA may exert a detrimental effect on ovarian cancer through activating these factors. To test this hypothesis, Dr. Fang will determine the signaling mechanism that links LPA to the expression of these angiogenic, or blood vessel growth, factors and will develop effective approaches to modulate LPA activity in vitro and in vivo. An ability to manipulate the function of LPA in ovarian cancer patients could lead to novel and effective therapies for ovarian cancer.
This award has been made possible by a generous grant from an anonymous donor.
Dr. Frank Fang is now an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Virginia Commonwealth University.