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Yiyan Zheng

Dr Yiyan Zheng, researcher, said: “If we carry on with our work on resistance to paclitaxel, I hope we can improve drug response for more patients who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”

Lead researcher:

Professor Ahmed Ahmed

Location: University of Oxford

Research strand: Treatment

With very few treatment options for ovarian cancer, when women become resistant to one of the two key drugs used in chemotherapy, there are few alternatives. Many women will eventually develop resistance to taxane drugs (such as paclitaxel or taxol) – it is a formidable problem. Overcoming this resistance to chemotherapy is a major challenge and a key priority in Target Ovarian Cancer’s research strategy.

This research is looking at cancer cells that become resistant to chemotherapy. The goal is to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy by including other drugs that make the cancer cells more susceptible to damage done by the chemotherapy.

The project aims to develop small molecules that interfere with the stability of microtubules in cancer cells, making them more sensitive to treatment by chemotherapy. These small molecules could go on to be developed into new drugs for ovarian cancer, which can be used to tackle cancer cells that have become resistant to the commonly used chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.

By overcoming drug resistance, we can make treatments more effective and improve survival from ovarian cancer.

In 2016, Dr Yiyan Zheng, a researcher funded by Target Ovarian Cancer, presented the results of his work at an international conference in Germany. He has shown that an enzyme called FER controls the stability microtubules and is a plausible target for therapy in combination with paclitaxel in ovarian cancer treatment.

This project funding is now completed.