2016 Recipient — Song Yi Ko, PhD

Song Yi Ko, PhD

A “Trojan Horse” Mechanism That Mediates Resistance to Anti-VEGF Therapy

Project Summary

A factor that substantially contributes to the lethality of ovarian cancer is relapse which often occurs within 18 months after standard platinum-based chemotherapy. Because recurrent ovarian cancer is aggressive, choosing the most effective second-line therapy is essential. Bevacizumab is a therapeutic antibody that has been recently approved for treating recurrent ovarian cancer that is platinum-resistant. Bevacizumab blocks a secreted protein called vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) that causes ascites accumulation in ovarian cancer patients and promotes tumor growth by stimulating endothelial cells to form blood vessels. However, there are currently no assays that enable us to predict which ovarian cancer patients are most likely to benefit from bevacizumab treatment. Our previous studies have focused on investigating how ovarian cancer cells interact with neighboring normal cells such as endothelial cells. In this study, we will investigate the possibility that ovarian cancers evade bevacizumab by producing small vesicles that act as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deliver VEGF to endothelial cells. This study addresses the essential need for biomarkers that could guide the selection of ovarian cancer patients for whom bevacizumab is most beneficial.

Areas of Research: ,


Dr. Song Yi Ko is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas). Dr. Ko earned her B.S. and M.S. from Seoul National University (Seoul, South Korea) and Ph.D. from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She has investigated the mechanisms that control ovarian cancer progression, with a particular focus on tumor-stroma interactions since 2007. In her current research under the mentorship of Honami Naora, Ph.D., she aims to provide new insights into mechanisms of resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy.