Stefan Gysler, MD, MHS
University of Pennsylvania
2020 Skacel Family Scholar
Nerves as novel actors in the tumor microenvironment: the role of exosomes in ovarian cancer tumor innervation
Although advances in surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer have improved survival, most women with ovarian cancer will experience recurrence of their disease. Unfortunately, recurrent ovarian cancers respond poorly to chemotherapy and are incurable, highlighting the need for a better understanding of ovarian cancer biology in order to develop new therapies. Tumors contain a wide range of immune cells, blood vessels, and normal tissues that contribute to the cancer’s ability to grow and metastasize. Dr. Gysler has previously shown that ovarian cancer can recruit nerves into the tumor by releasing signaling molecules in small packages called exosomes. These exosomes can travel from cell to cell, causing an increase in the number of nerves in the tumor. Ovarian tumors treated with chemotherapy also contain more nerves than tumors that have not been treated. In this study, Dr. Gysler will test the hypothesis that the increase in tumor nerves contributes to ovarian cancer growth, metastasis, and chemotherapy resistance and that these effects are mediated by exosomes. Ultimately, these discoveries may lead to new treatments that will improve the survival of women with this disease.