Lead researcher:Dr Srinivasan Madhusudan
Location: University of Nottingham
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. A significant proportion of women will eventually develop resistance to platinum-based drugs – 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 project is looking at how to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy by including other drugs that make the cancer cells more susceptible to damage done by the chemotherapy. By investigating drugs that target ‘flap structure specific endonuclease’ or FEN1, their approach could also work particularly well in BRCA-mutated cancers.
The team’s approach is particularly impressive because they have developed a strong collaboration with a group of chemists from the prestigious National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, giving them increased access to a large library of chemicals and research expertise.
The group has identified a number of potential new drugs to show that inhibition of FEN1 makes the cancer cells more sensitive to platinum chemotherapy. This study provides the first evidence that FEN1 targeting could be a new strategy for treating ovarian cancer. If successful, these drugs could be tested on women in a clinical trial to see if they could be a potential new treatment for use alongside chemotherapy to overcome resistance.
By overcoming drug resistance, we can make treatments more effective and improve survival from ovarian cancer.