OCRF Research Sheds New Light on Ovarian Cancer Metastasis

(July 21, 2014) According to research funded in part by OCRF, circulating tumor cells spread ovarian cancer through the bloodstream, homing in on a sheath of abdominal fatty tissue where it can grow and metastasize to other organs. This new finding, supported in part by an OCRF Program Project Development Grant to Anil Sood, MD, was published in Cancer Cell.

“This completely new way of thinking about ovarian cancer metastasis provides new potential avenues to predict and prevent recurrence or metastasis,” said Dr. Sood, who is professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and Cancer Biology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The researchers found the circulating tumor cells (CTCs) rely on HER3, a less-famous sibling of the HER2 receptor protein prominent in some breast cancers, to find their way to the omentum, a sheet of tissue that covers and supports abdominal organs.

HER3’s heavy presence on these cells makes it a biomarker candidate and suggests possible therapeutic options to thwart ovarian cancer progression, the researchers noted. “The CTCs are not just a correlation, they seem to have a functionally important role in metastasis,” Sood said.

Click here to read more about this research (MD Anderson press release).