Jia Liu, PhD
University of Arkansas for Medical Science
2016 Cookie Laughlin Bridge Funding Award
Myxoma Virus in Combination with Chemotherapy for Treatment of Ovarian Cancer
Resistance to chemotherapy occurs in the vast majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is a major barrier for effective treatment of the disease. Additionally, cells called tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) prevent the immune system from eliminating tumor cells. Dr. Liu proposes an innovative approach using a virus called myxoma virus (MYXV), which naturally infects rabbits but does not harm humans, to combat both chemotherapy resistance and the decreased immune response caused by TAMs in ovarian cancer. Dr. Liu’s early studies have shown that MYXV can infect ovarian tumor cells and allow low doses of cisplatin chemotherapy to kill chemotherapy-resistant cells. She has also found that MYXV can disable TAMs, which awakens the immune system to eliminate tumor cells. Dr. Liu’s work utilizing the Cookie Laughlin Bridge Funds will help develop a better understanding of how MYXV infection of ovarian tumor cells makes them more susceptible to cell death by chemotherapy and how MYXV infection of TAMs improves immune response. This work addresses an urgent need for treatments that help overcome chemotherapy resistance, as it affects most women who are diagnosed with this deadly disease.