As a gynecologist, I have cared for many courageous women battling ovarian cancer and witnessing their struggle motivates me to find prevention for this insidious and devastating disease. In hopes of increasing the efficiency of transitioning discovery to direct patient care we focus on drugs that are already FDA approved for non-cancer indications but may have anti-cancer effects. Given the high cost and difficulty of new cancer drug development, I believe taping into the anti-carcinogenic potential of economical and widely used drugs is an important paradigm shift in cancer research.
My general approach to this work is to integrate of in vitro cancer biology techniques, mouse models of ovarian cancer and human clinical data and samples. Using this integrated approach, we are currently evaluating the anti-cancer effects of two commonly used medications: metformin used for diabetes and statins used for high cholesterol. Our laboratory-based data demonstrates a strong anti-neoplastic effect of both metformin and statins and novel molecular mechanisms of action of the drugs in ovarian cancer. In addition, in a retrospective cohort study we have found that our ovarian cancer patients that used metformin had improved survival compared to those not using metformin. We will then use these pre-clinical findings to inform patient selection and predicative biomarkers and conduct a prospective randomized clinical of these drugs in ovarian cancer.