Potential new target for treatment of ovarian cancer identified

Washington, Aug 17 (ANI): Scientists have identified a potential new target for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

For the first time, Salt Inducible Kinase 2 (SIK2) has been found to play a critical role in cell division and to regulate the response of some ovarian cancers to chemotherapy.

Researchers reported findings from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The study adds to growing evidence that combination therapies targeting different phases of the cell division cycle are vital for optimal cancer treatment.

Researchers found that depleting SIK2 from ovarian cancers sensitized the cancer cells to paclitaxel, a commonly prescribed chemotherapeutic agent that inhibits cell division, making the drug more effective in stopping the cancer's growth.

Levels of the SIK2 protein are increased in approximately 30 percent of ovarian cancers and are associated with poorer survival in women with the disease.

"There is a large window of opportunity to improve the effectiveness of existing chemotherapies by modifying the sensitivity of cancer cells to the drugs," study senior author Robert C. Bast Jr said.

"In our search for proteins that are responsible for that sensitivity, we found that SIK2 was required for cell division and that its inhibition offers a novel approach to improving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer that deserves further study," he added.

Although mitosis-inhibiting drugs are used successfully to treat a range of cancers, only about 50 percent of ovarian cancer patients respond to taxanes and it is not yet possible to identify in advance which patients will benefit. As a result, many patients receive taxanes arbitrarily as part of a combination of chemotherapy drugs.

"The discovery that SIK2 plays a role in cell cycle regulation is groundbreaking since to date it has been linked to cellular metabolism and energy balance," Ahmed said. "In addition to improving the response of some cancer to taxane, our findings add support to emerging evidence that cancer cell metabolism and mitosis functions are coupled," Ahmed Ashour Ahmed, member of the faculty at Oxford University said.

The findings were reported in the August issue of journal Cancer Cell. (ANI)

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