Joe Delaney, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina
2020 Pilot Study Award
Slowing ovarian cancer evolution by LINE-1 inhibition
High grade serous ovarian cancer is unique from other cancer types in that it has high levels of a type of DNA called LINE-1 elements. LINE-1 elements are known as selfish DNA because they can make copies of themselves and insert themselves at random places in the genome. This random insertion of LINE-1 elements can cause genetic mutations that can lead to cancer. Dr. Delaney has shown that these genetic mutations may also help a tumor develop resistance to chemotherapy. Copying of LINE-1 elements can be prevented using drugs that target the same process in HIV. In this study, Dr. Delaney will test whether one of these HIV drugs, efavirenz, can prevent the type of genetic mutations that leads to serous ovarian cancer, and whether efavirenz can prevent tumors from becoming resistant to chemotherapy. He will also study how LINE-1 elements influence the non-cancer cells that surround the tumor to provide insight into whether efavirenz can be used in combination with immunotherapy drugs. Together, this study will show if inhibition of LINE-1 elements by the HIV drug efavirenz can be used clinically to improve current chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments and to prevent the development of drug resistance in ovarian cancers.