Yunfei Wen, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Overcoming acquired resistance to antiangiogenic therapy by targeting vascular p130cas
Angiogenesis, the process of forming a new network of blood vessels from existing ones, is a central hallmark of cancer. In order for a tumor to grow, it must have the blood flow necessary to feed its rapidly dividing cells. A gene called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) is involved in the process of angiogenesis and is often over-abundant in cancer cells. Therefore, researchers developed drugs to inhibit VEGF in an attempt to limit tumor growth. Unfortunately, these therapies have been less than successful because cancers quickly become resistant to the drug, especially ovarian cancers. Dr. Wen previously discovered that the protein p130cas is abundant in ovarian tumor cells, and that it is required for cells to become resistant to anti-VEGF therapy. Therefore, in this study, Dr. Wen and colleagues will try to determine why blocking p130cas stops tumor angiogenesis and evaluate the therapeutic potential of targeting p130cas as a new strategy for treating ovarian cancer. Dr. Wen has collaborated with an expert in nanoparticle drug delivery to develop a biodegradable nanoparticle that will block p130cas and remain circulating in the blood for a long period of time. She will test the efficacy of this particle at inhibiting growth of ovarian tumors in mice that are resistant to VEGF therapy. If successful, this would be an important new strategy for overcoming resistance to anti-angiogenic treatments for ovarian cancer.