Grants - Translational Grants - Texas - 2015

Robert Coleman, M.D.

Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease heightened by its tendency to present when metastatic disease is already present. Many women diagnosed with the disease complain that despite their best surveillance efforts, the disease occurred completely “under the radar.” While most women are symptomatic at diagnosis, the symptoms are veiled as common inconveniences of daily life, such as bloating, fullness and pelvic discomfort. Primary treatment involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Tumor control is achieved in >75%. However, despite these early treatment gains, a typical patient will suffer recurrence within 2 years, where limited curative options exist. These clinical observations have fueled the search for better treatment agents and strategies. The unprecedented explosion of information arising from analyses of the cancer cell environment has directed new investigative opportunities. One such observation in line with this clinical story is the efficacy of agents that target new blood vessel formation. Several clinical trials with these agents in both initial and recurrent disease settings have demonstrated benefit to women. However, improvement in survival has not been realized. Our investigation into why this might occur has uncovered that the immune system may be adversely contributing. Of great concern, though, is that this process appears to be induced by the very drug being used for therapy. The current proposal tackles this issue by specifically investigating and targeting these immune cells. Our clinical trial design uniquely identifies patients where this “escape” effect may be at work. The translationally-rich proposal holds promise to substantially improve treatment outcomes.