"It has been known for some time that the microenvironment of cancer cells can affect the response of these cells to chemotherapy. But our data show that cancer cells can remodel their surroundings to make themselves more resistant to chemotherapy. This is quite an intriguing concept," says Patrice Morin, Ph.D., an investigator specializing in cancer molecular genetics in the NIA's Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology. The findings* are reported in the April 2003 issue of Cancer Cell.
Blocking the production or the effects of collagen VI in ovarian cancer cells could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments and improve survival rates for this cancer, which occurs most frequently in women older than 50 who have gone through menopause, Dr. Morin says.
"Drug resistance is a major problem in cancer treatment in general, and in ovarian cancer in particular," he says. "We were interested in finding out the mechanisms of resistance. Just how is it that cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy?"
To find out, Dr. Morin and his colleagues used serial analysis gene expression (SAGE) technology to examine more than 15,000 common genes in two ovarian cancer cell lines with differing degrees of resistance to chemotherapy. SAGE is a new tool to evaluate the genes expressed in cells of interest. After analyzing their findings, the investigator found only 16 genes that were differentially up or down regulated in the cell line that was most resistant
Contact: Doug Dollemore
NIH/National Institute on Aging