Study Finds Potential Therapeutic Target to Halt Ovarian Cancer Growth

Study Finds Potential Therapeutic Target to Halt Ovarian Cancer Growth
Researchers have identified a growth factor, called EGFL6, that appears to promote ovarian cancer growth and spread in both cell lines and mouse models, according to a study published in Cancer Research. The study, "EGFL6 Regulates the Asymmetric Division, Maintenance, and Metastasis of ALDH+ Ovarian Cancer Cells," suggests that blocking this protein has the potential to reduce cancer growth in ovarian cancer patients and prevent it from metastasizing. In recent years, studies have increasingly supported the role of cancer stem cells in tumor growth, which work by reproducing themselves and giving rise to differentiated cancer cells that fuel the tumor,  much like normal stem cells do in healthy tissues. However, little is known about the factors that regulate the asymmetric division of cancer stem cells. Given the role of EGFL6 in stem cell proliferation and differentiation in a variety of biological systems, the researchers sought to examine if EGFL6 also played a part in the proliferation of ovarian cancer stem cells. They found that triggering EGFL6 expression in ovarian cancer cells led to a two- to three-fold increase in the rate of cell proliferation in both cell lines and ovarian cancer mouse models. When the researchers impaired the production of this protein, however, the tumor grew nearly four times more slowly. Using microfluidic chambers to look into individual cells, the researchers found that EGFL6 was playing a part in the asymmetric division of cancer stem cells. Without EGFL6, a cancer stem cell could no
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Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.

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