Combination drug therapy cuts ovarian cancer recurrence by 50%

Researchers examining the recurrence rate of women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer, the most common subtype, have found a combination therapy that could reduce recurrence by 50 percent. Published in Precision Oncology, the study found the combination of birinapant and carboplatin to be effective in prolonging the survival of mice.

Led by Sanaz Memarzadeh, MD, PhD, a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, the researcher team tested a combination of carboplatin and the experimental drug birinapant in improving the survival of mice. With 85 percent of high-grade serous ovarian cancer patients experiencing recurrence, the research is an important step in preventing recurrence.

"I've been treating women with ovarian cancer for about two decades and have seen firsthand that ovarian cancer treatment options are not always as effective as they should be," said Memarzadeh. "Our previous research was promising, but we still had questions about what percentage of tumors could be targeted with the birinapant and carboplatin combination therapy, and whether this combination could improve overall survival by eradicating chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer tumors."

The study two groups of on mice—half with carboplatin-resistant human ovarian cancer tumors and half with carboplatin-sensitive tumors. Researchers noticed that while single administration of with drug had insignificant effects, the combination treatment doubled the survival rate of both types of mice. When testing the combination therapies in 23 lab-grown human high-grade serous ovarian cancer tumors, the combination therapy eliminated 50 percent of both types of tumors.

“I believe that our research potentially points to a new treatment option. In the near future, I hope to initiate a phase 1/2 clinical trial for women with ovarian cancer tumors predicted to benefit from this combination therapy," said Memarzadeh.