Advancing the health and well-being of animals and people


Principal Investigator: Alexander Nikitin
 

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Email: an58@cornell.edu; Phone: 607-253-4347
Sponsor: New York State Department of Health-NYSTEM
Grant Number: C028125
Title: Roles of Ovarian Surface Epithelium Stem Cells
Annual Direct Cost: $282,745
Project Period: 3/1/2013-2/28/2016

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most deadly gynecological malignancy. Due to its latent progression, the majority of women are diagnosed at advanced stages of disease and the 5- year survival of patients with EOC is below 30%. No significant progress has been made in treatment of EOC during past 30 years, mainly due to poor understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease. Recent studies have shown that ovarian cancer cells frequently have stem cell - related properties. Such cells are responsible for aggressive course of the disease and development of drug resistance, thereby providing a rationale for development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches aimed towards detection and elimination of malignant cells with stem cell properties. The success of such work greatly depends on better understanding of mechanisms regulating normal stem cell compartment and unraveling how alterations in such mechanisms may result in cancer. Unfortunately, the existence of stem cell compartment for the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE), which is believed to be the main cell of origin of EOC, remains insufficiently confirmed and its roles in physiological regeneration and malignant transformation are unknown. We have identified OSE stem cells in a specific anatomical location of the ovary and propose to determine their biological functions and to determine their role in carcinogenesis. This work is based on advanced cell biology of somatic stem cells, genetic modeling, genomics and cancer research approaches. In addition to characterization of the novel stem cell compartment for OSE stem cells, it is expected that proposed research will determine whether distortion of mechanisms regulating normal physiological functions of OSE stem cells leads to cancer. It is expected that proposed studies will significantly advance our understanding of mechanisms of EOC formation, thereby leading to development of more effective approaches for detecting and targeting EOC cells.