2019 Early Career Investigator Grant Recipient — Min Soon Cho, PhD
Thirty percent of patients with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) have elevated platelet counts. To understand the underlying mechanism of platelet in cancer progression, we investigated and published that ovarian cancer cells secrete ADP and activate platelets by binding to P2Y12. In addition, activated platelets enhance proliferation of ovarian cancer cells and tumor growth by releasing TGF. However, platelets not only directly interact with cancer cells but also alter the immune milieu inside tumors. The proposed projects will test that platelets enhance the growth of ovarian cancer by directly increasing proliferation rate of cancer cells and by dampening anti-cancer immune response in the tumor microenvironment (TME). To our knowledge, the proposed work is the first to combine anti-platelet therapy with an anti-immune checkpoint inhibitor in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Concurrently, the results may lead to the development of novel immunotherapy strategy in EOC by targeting platelets.
Dr. Min Soon Cho is an assistant professor in the Section of Benign Hematology, Department of Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Cho completed her Ph.D. from the Genes and Development (G&D) program focusing on genetically engineered mouse models and skin/limb development at The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Texas at Houston. During her Ph.D. training, she received numerous awards including Trainee Research Excellence Achievement Award and G&D Research Achievement Award. Dr. Cho completed her post-doctoral work with Dr. Afshar-Kharghan (Benign Hematology) and Dr. Sood (Gynecologic Oncology) at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She participated in research projects in ovarian cancer progression, and therapeutic approaches, which consist of a multi-faceted aspect of hematologic components; 1) complement component C3 regulation and 2) the role of platelets in ovarian cancer.
Dr. Cho is a recipient of The Harold C. and Mary L. Daily Endowment Fellowship. She has more than 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Cancer Cell, Nature Communication, Cell Reports, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Clinical Cancer Research and Blood over the last six years. She recognized as a recipient of the Basic Research Distinguished Paper Award from the Division of Internal Medicine, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Cho’s most recent research interests mainly focus on investigating the function of platelet in the TME during ovarian cancer progression, and immune response.