A research team at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA received a $1.8 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new therapeutic and preventive strategies for ovarian cancer based on the tumor suppressor p53. The team, led by Alice Soragni, PhD, will focus on the role of p53 in cancer onset and progression. It will also investigate the preventive effects of ReACp53, a p53-reactivating molecule that has shown promise in fighting ovarian cancer in preclinical studies. P53 is a natural tumor suppressor that cells use to prevent uncontrolled growth. It arrests cell growth and promotes either DNA repair or cell death in cells with DNA damage or in stressful environments such as low oxygen or low nutrients. It also plays an important role in regulating several aspects of anti-tumor immune responses. Mutations in TP53, the gene that contains the instructions to produce the p53 protein, block p53 anti-tumor function, leaving cells more susceptible to uncontrolled growth. A fraction of these mutations results in a protein with an abnormal structure, which promotes the formation of p53 aggregates, resulting in p53 inactivation. TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancers — estimated to occur in over 50% of all tumors — and mutations in this gene are usually associated with cancer resistance to therapy and poor clinical outcomes. Currently, there are no approved therapies to restore p53 function.