Researchers at the MedUni Vienna have confirmed a new concept for targeted treatment of ovarian cancer. The study aimed at establishing better control over the development of resistance, along with superior treatment outcomes. The concept focuses on ceasing tumor growth by inhibiting two signal networks. The results were very promising, and researchers are now moving on to the next stage – verifying the concept via in-vivo studies.

Concept Of New Treatment For Ovarian Cancer

Targeted cancer treatment involves blocking signal networks that tumor cells use to communicate. This inhibits cancerous cells from receiving messages, which ultimately leads to cell death. This usually involves protein receptors that are present in abundance on the surface of tumor cells, or inside them. These receptors pick the signals and transfer them along, which ultimately cause cell degeneration.

Until recently, the main focus for treating ovarian cancer was targeting the cell division signaling pathways – mechanisms that promote cell growth and division. Lead researcher Thomas Grunt from the University Department of Internal Medicine I, Head of the CCC Research Cluster Cell Signaling and Metabolism stated that malignant cells are extremely flexible and easily develop resistance against new, targeted therapeutic agents.

“This is the main difficulty in oncology. Therefore, our idea was to block a second signaling system in hopes of improving the impact of the targeted therapeutic being used”.

Metabolic Pathways: Responsible For Ovarian Cancer

Metabolic pathways are responsible for establishing cell structure, energy and nutrition. Since cancerous cells posses a hyperactive fatty acid metabolism, researchers looked into this aspect more closely.

“We studied how the two signaling pathways interacted with one other at the molecular level. We identified an enzyme known as PI3K-mTORC1 kinase to be the central interface for both the signaling systems. Moreover, cell tests demonstrated that inhibiting this enzyme lead to cell death and also slowed the rate of cell division”.

The next step will be to arrange further studies to test the substances already available for inhibiting the protein. This will work best in humans.