Erin George, MD
University of Pennsylvania
2019 Lynda’s Fund Scholar Award
Strategies to optimize drug tolerability without compromising efficacy
Most women with ovarian cancer present with advanced stage disease. Large surgeries and toxic chemotherapies are the mainstay of treatment and, despite advances in medicine, most ovarian cancers return. Every tumor is unique in its biology, allowing for the opportunity for tailoring therapy to target these differences. A subset of ovarian cancers, which have high levels of the Cyclin E protein, are especially aggressive. These women’s cancers return quickly, do not respond to standard chemotherapy, and die sooner from their disease. Dr. George and colleagues found that blocking two proteins, WEE1 and ATR, is a promising approach and better than standard chemotherapy to treat these types of tumors. In a preclinical mouse model of this aggressive ovarian cancer, survival was increased more than 3 times compared to standard chemotherapy. Given these findings these drugs are nearly ready for patients in the clinic, however because inhibitors of WEE1 and ATR have overlapping side effects, identifying the optimal dosing strategy is of great importance. Dr. George’s study will help ensure that when this combination goes to clinical trials it is most likely to be well-tolerated and lead to complete and long-lasting responses. Dr. George’s findings have major clinical implications for the treatment of this aggressive and often chemotherapy resistant type of ovarian cancer.