2005 Ann Schreiber Grant Recipient – Joseph Kwong

Joseph Kwong, Ph.D.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Could Inflammation of Ovarian Cells be the Cause of Ovarian Cancer?

Project Summary

For some time, scientists have believed that ovarian cancer arises because of ovulation and from levels of a pituitary hormone called gonadotropin acting on the epithelial cells on the surface of the ovary. But it remains unclear what the causes really are. Recent research suggests that inflammation of the ovarian epithelial cells might lead to ovarian cancer. Ways to study inflammation’s impact on epithelial cells, however, have been limited by available research models. Recently, Dr. Kwong has developed a 3-D tissue culture model that allows him to study ovarian epithelial cells in a way that mimics cells in the body. In his project, he will use the model to test how inflammation-related factors, such as TNF-α, act on epithelial cells to cause them to become cancerous. He will focus on a protein called ELF-3, levels of which increase after the cells are exposed to TNF-α. Findings could lead to new markers for early detection and new targets for drugs to stop the inflammatory process.
early detection of the disease, ultimately benefiting the strategies for treatment and chemoprevention of ovarian cancer.