Prof Wayne Philips, Dr Kathryn Kinross
The Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The Univeristy of Melbourne
The PI3K pathway is a sequence of chemical events that controls the growth of cells. In many cancers, the PI3K pathway becomes over-active causing abnormal growth. While there are new drugs (PI3K inhibitors) that block this pathway currently in clinical trials, early data suggests that tumours may quickly develop resistance, limiting their overall benefits when used alone.
Our aim is to understand how tumours become resistant so we can design combination therapies that may be more effective.
What is the need?
Ovarian cancer kills at least two Australian women every day. For patients where conventional surgical and chemotherapy have failed, there is a clear need for novel targeted therapeutics to improve outcomes.
Unfortunately, ovarian tumours are among the most insidious cancers - not only are they difficult to detect and fast- moving, but can become resistant to treatment over time.
By understanding the mechanism that make the tumours resistant, we hope to be able to design combination therapies that may pre-empt the tumours and prevent them from developing resistance.
This could greatly enhance the effectiveness of current treatments and potentially provide long-term cancer control.
What impact will this research have?
This work has the potential to identify more effective combination therapies that could prolong, and/or improve the quality of, life for ovarian cancer patients. Importantly, such combination therapies may be able to utilise available drugs, helping to rapidly translate promising preclinical studies into the clinics.
Our approach of trying to understand the mechanism(s) underlying the development of resistance will identify the best targets to prevent and/or overcome resistance thus providing the opportunity to rationally design appropriate, and more effective, combination therapies.
"Our work has the potential to identify more effective combination therapies that could prolong, and/or improve the quality of, life for ovarian cancer patients."