Saint John’s Cancer Research Institute is pushing frontiers of therapeutic discovery with focus on cancer.

Elmar Nurmemmedov, PhD, MBA, and co-investigators at Denver University have recently been awarded a 5-year grant to explore the role of WNT signaling in ovarian cancer. They will be focusing on mechanisms in high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) that is known to be resistant to chemotherapies, particularly PARP inhibitors.

The WNT pathway refers to a large set of cellular signaling mechanisms

WNT pathways dramatically affect the behavior and state of cancer cells. High WNT activity in cancer cells can enable cells to bypass biological processes that normally suppress cancer development, evade the immune system and become resistant to existing therapies. SJCI researchers will. Investigate the impact of aberrant WNT pathway in the onset, progression and resistance of cancers.

HGSOC is the most common type of ovarian cancer & has the lowest survival rate.

PARP is a protein that helps initiate the repair of single stranded breaks (SSBs) in DNA. If left unrepaired, SSBs can lead to double stranded breaks (DSBs), which requires a different set of molecular machinery to repair.

PARP inhibitors are used to impair cancer cells’ ability to restore its DNA leading to their death. Resistance to PARP inhibitors is a growing problem that our investigators are striving to overcome. They found that targeting WNT pathway in ovarian cancer cells re-sensitizes them to chemotherapy. This joint investigation is expected to advance the field of WNT therapeutics and lead to development of novel therapies that will make resistant ovarian cancer more amenable to treatment. This project provides hope to patients with HGSOC and has the potential to translate to other cancers, such as aggressive glioblastomas.

Prepared by: Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI)

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Eleanor Zeri