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Chemo Combo Shows Promise Against Ovarian Cancer

Lab-based study focused on certain types of malignancies

SUNDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Adding the drug dasatinib to a standard, two-drug chemotherapy regimen for treating ovarian cancer boosted the effectiveness of the drugs in laboratory tests, new research shows.

Researchers at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center added dasatinib, along with carboplatin and paclitaxel, to four types of ovarian cancer cells.

In some types of ovarian cancers, a pathway called SRC is involved in the abnormal cell proliferation, said Dr. Deanna Teoh, a fellow in gynecologic oncology at Duke and lead investigator on this study.

"By examining gene expression data, we determined that the combination of the leukemia drug dasatinib (Sprycel) made carboplatin and paclitaxel more effective in cell lines with higher levels of SRC expression and SRC pathway deregulation," Teoh said.

Dasatinib, which is marketed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb under the brand name Sprycel, is FDA-approved for treating leukemia.

"These findings indicate that we may be able to direct the use of a targeted therapy like dasatinib based on gene expression pathways in select ovarian cancers," she said.

The results of the study were to be presented Sunday at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, in Denver.

Researchers examined four ovarian cancer cell lines, known as IGROV1, SKOV3, OVCAR3 and A2780. Three of the cell lines demonstrated high activation of SRC, and one demonstrated lower SRC expression. All were treated in lab dishes with various combinations of the chemotherapy drugs dasatinib, carboplatin and paclitaxel.

"We found that the addition of dasatinib to standard therapy in the three cell lines with significant SRC pathway deregulation -- IGROV1, OVCAR3 and A2780 -- enhanced the response of the cancer cells to therapy," Teoh said. "Conversely, in SKOV3, which has minimal SRC protein expression and pathway deregulation, we saw the least amount of anti-cancer activity when we added dasatinib."

The results of the study support further investigation of targeted biologic therapy using a SRC inhibitor in some ovarian cancers, Teoh said. Currently a phase 1 trial of a combination of dasatinib, paclitaxel and carboplatin is available for women with advanced or recurrent ovarian, tubal and peritoneal cancers, the researchers said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on ovarian cancer.

-- Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center news release, April 19, 2009

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