A peptide may be used to fight malignancies as a drug which being tested for treatment of atherosclerosis may restrict the growth of cancer of the ovary. The study was conducted by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. The study was published November issue of the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earlier research by the same group shows a protein known as apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) which can be utilized as a bio marker to detect initial stages of ovarian cancer when it lack symptoms and can be treated easily. The earlier findings may be important for early detection as more than 85 percent of the cases diagnosed with ovarian cancer are found to be in the advanced stages. The cancer may have already spread which might result in the recurrence of the cancer, said Dr. Robin Farias-Eisner, chief of gynecologic oncology and co-senior author of the study with Dr. Srinu Reddy, a professor of medicine.

“The vast majority of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed with advanced disease and the vast majority of those, after surgery and chemotherapy, will eventually become resistant to standard therapy,” Farias-Eisner said. “That’s the reason these patients die. Now, with this peptide as a potential therapy, and if successful in clinical trials, we may have a novel effective therapy for recurrent, chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer, without compromising the quality of life during treatment.”

Previously work, Farias-Eisner, Reddy and team recognized 3 unique biomarkers that were utilized to detect initial stage of ovarian cancer. Their findings suggested that a particular marker apoA-I, was significantly lowered in the initial stages of the cancer. They believed that the protein enables regulating the progression of the disease and may also be protective against ovarian cancer.

The protein, apoA-I is a significant component of HDL, the good cholesterol. It plays a vital role in reverse cholesterol transport as it extracts cholesterol and lipids from cells and transfers it to the liver. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in the protein, helps in reduction of the proliferation of the cancer cells. As inflammation, lipid transport and oxidative stress are associated with the proliferation of the cancer cells, the researchers deduced the decreased levels of apoA-I in patients with ovarian cancer.

The study also revealed that, “The smaller peptides mimic the larger apoA-I protein and provided us with agents we could give to the mouse to see if it was effective in fighting ovarian cancer,” said Reddy. “One of the peptides was being tested as an experimental therapy for atherosclerosis, so we already have some information on how it's being tolerated in humans, which would be vital information to have if we progressed to human studies in ovarian cancer.”Reddy added, “The peptide, thus far, has caused little to no side effects in atherosclerosis patients, a hopeful sign that it might be well tolerated in ovarian cancer patients.”

Farias-Eisner said, “The peptide avidly binds oxidized lipids, one of which is known to stimulate cancer cells to survive and multiply. In the mouse studies, the mice that received peptide had significantly lower levels of this cancer promoting lipid.”