Brandi Klingerman | July 19, 2019
Advanced aging is a key risk factor for developing most cancers, including ovarian cancer. With a new award from the National Institutes of Health, researchers from the University of Notre Dame, the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute will explore why age is significant in developing ovarian cancer, and how it can negatively affect tumor growth and patient survival.
M. Sharon Stack, the Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Director of the Harper Cancer Research Institute and Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Notre Dame, will lead the Partnership for Aging and Cancer. The goal of the research project is to understand age-related changes that take place in the peritoneal cavity, which is where the liver, intestines, ovaries and other organs reside, and how those age-associated changes may potentially foster cancer growth and prepare the body to receive cancer cells before the disease spreads.
“Through this award, our research team will be able to explore a number of age-related factors that may indicate why advanced-age people are more likely to have a higher cancer burden and why it’s more difficult for their bodies to fight off this disease,” said Stack. “By understanding molecular mechanisms used to ‘prime’ different locations to foster cancer growth, we can target those mechanisms with potential treatments.”
One factor the team will evaluate is how an aged immune landscape, or immune system, impacts the ability of cancer to spread. “Researchers know that advanced-age people with cancer will present with a different immune profile than a young person with cancer, and we believe this difference may play a role,” said Stack.
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