Carrie House, PhD
San Diego State University Research Foundation
San Diego, CA
Role of Macrophages in the Development of Drug-Resistant Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells Following Chemotherapy
Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecological cancer in the United States and is associated with a high rate of recurrence. Unfortunately, tumors that grow back stop responding to chemotherapy and become “drug resistant.” Cancer recurrence is likely facilitated by a small population of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) left behind after treatment. These CSCs are resistant to chemotherapy and have properties of normal stem cells, which allow them to regenerate tumors. Understanding how CSCs develop, survive, and grow, is critical for finding cures for recurrent ovarian cancer.
Cancer growth is driven by the area directly surrounding a tumor, called the tumor microenvironment. It includes a variety of immune cells that secrete cytokines, which can modulate cancer cell behavior. Dr. House discovered that a specific cytokine, called TWEAK, is present at elevated levels in tumors after chemotherapy and induces ovarian cancer cells to acquire CSC properties. She will investigate the role of chemotherapy in the increased secretion of TWEAK. This project will uncover a mechanism by which CSCs develop and could lead to new therapies to prevent ovarian cancer recurrence.