Finding new hope in the fight against ovarian cancer

Britt EricksonClear cell ovarian cancer (CCOC) is a subtype of ovarian cancer with high rates of recurrence and resistance to chemotherapy. Britt Erickson, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist and faculty member in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s health, is determined to improve these outcomes. With Masonic support, her team hopes to develop an effective new therapy for women with this disease. 

In collaboration with Reuben Harris, Ph.D., and his team in the biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics department, they discovered that an enzyme called APOBEC3B may lead to beneficial effects for women with CCOC, including lower recurrence and improved survival rates. 

These findings are encouraging, yet surprising since APOBEC3B typically hastens DNA mutations and is linked to poor outcomes in other cancers. The team is now exploring if APOBEC-associated DNA damage makes clear cell ovarian cancer more susceptible to drugs that inhibit DNA repair, and is conducting an early study in mouse models of the disease. If this study is successful, the next big step will be to develop a clinical trial for women with APOBEC3B-associated CCOC to determine the safety and efficacy of these innovative therapies. 

"Ovarian cancer is a rare but devastating disease with very few therapeutic options. As we understand these tumors better, our hope is to move from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ paradigm of ovarian cancer treatment to a more targeted approach. As a surgeon and clinician, I feel strongly that innovative collaboration with basic scientists such as Dr. Harris is imperative in order to move our field forward and improve the lives of women with cancer."

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