The role of spheroids in ovarian cancer metastasis and resistance to treatment
Ovarian cancer is characterized by early spread, or metastasis, throughout the abdomen and pelvis. The process by which ovarian cancer cells are able to leave the ovary and spread to other part of the abdomen remains poorly understood, but critically important to develop better therapies for these patients. Current research focuses on changes that occur within tumor cells as they spread, as well as changes that occur in the area where the tumor begins to grow (the tumor microenvironment). Studies have shown that when ovarian cancer tumors spread to new places, changes in the way both cancer cells and surrounding cells process and generate energy occurs. My research focuses on a protein called sucrose non-fermenting related kinase (SNRK). Our data shows that SNRK appears to play a role in regulating energy use and growth in cancer cells that are still within the ovary, but when these cells spread, SNRK loses this function. The goal of my research is to determine the role SNRK plays in primary tumor sites (within the ovary) versus metastatic sites (in the abdomen). We believe that SNRK plays a role in allowing tumor cells from the ovary to spread to new sites making SNRK an exciting new target for therapy in ovarian cancer patients.