2005 Ann Schreiber Grant Recipient – Jason Wilken

Jason Wilken, Ph.D.
Yale University
Making An Antibody Treatment for Breast Cancer Work for Ovarian Cancer

Project Summary

Traditional chemotherapeutic drugs are effective in destroying ovarian cancer tumors, but these drugs often damage health tissues, resulting in severe side effects. Recently, drugs based on antibodies have been developed that have fewer side effects. One such antibody is Herceptin (by Genentech, Inc.), which is now used clinically for breast cancer. Despite Herceptin’s success in breast cancer treatment, it is ineffective in ovarian cancer. Dr. Wilken hypothesizes that ovarian cancer cells produce a growth factor called heregulin that makes the cells resistant to Herceptin. In his project, Dr. Wilken will attempt to inhibit heregulin activity to make the ovarian cancer cells susceptible to Herceptin. His findings may lead to clinical testing of a new combination therapy for ovarian cancer.