Wa Xian, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX, United States
2019 Pilot Study Award
Research in Focus: Understanding and overcoming resistance to chemotherapy
Resistant Cancer Stem Cell Profile in Multi-Site Metastasis of HGSC
Even though ovarian cancer is typically detected very late, advances in surgery and chemotherapy have resulted in remarkable responses in most patients such that cancer is essentially undetectable at six months. However, a frustratingly large number of these patients will see a return of this disease against which chemotherapy is less effective. There is now increasing evidence that this recurrent disease is the result of a very small number of cancer cells in the original cancer that are somehow “different”. Therefore, the most pressing problem in ovarian cancer today is understanding how to kill this very small number of resistant cells. To meet this challenge, Dr. Xian and colleagues have very recently developed a technology that may permit us to identify these rare, resistant tumor cells soon after the patient is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In particular, they can grow these rare resistant cells in a test tube so that they can use powerful techniques to determine at a molecular level how they are different and thereby identify drugs that specifically kill them before they have a chance to multiply and result in the recurrence of ovarian cancer. This study aims to determine the existence of these resistant cells in both primary and metastatic tumors of a patient, and identify drugs that specifically target these changes in these cells. Dr. Xian’s ultimate aim is to more effectively prevent clinical relapses and ultimately provide curative therapies for patients.