Ilana Chefetz, PhD
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
2020 Lynda’s Fund Pilot Study Award
AMPK-alpha-like proteins in a high grade serous ovarian cancer
Although epithelial ovarian cancer responds well to initial treatment, the cancer recurs in a significant number of women. Once ovarian cancer recurs it is generally lethal, with fewer than 10% of patients surviving beyond 5 years. Recurrent tumors can arise from cancer stem cells – rare, chemoresistant cancer cells that are capable of growing and changing into the many types of cells that make up a recurrent tumor. Dr. Chefetz recently showed that chemotherapy resistant ovarian cancer stem cells have increased activity of a protein called ALDH. This discovery provided Dr. Chefetz with a unique opportunity to develop new ALDH inhibiting drugs that specifically kill these ovarian cancer stem cells. In this study, Dr. Chefetz will investigate how an increase in ALDH activity leads to tumor development and chemoresistance and how ALDH inhibitors cause cancer stem cells to die. These studies will provide critical pre-clinical data for a potential new treatment that targets cancer stem cells to prevent recurrent disease.