New research project investigates the development of ovarian cancer

Jan 10, 2022

Ovarian cancer has a poor prognosis because it is often diagnosed at a late stage, when a cure is difficult. For this reason, researchers at the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors in Dortmund (IfADo) are trying to understand the molecular mechanisms of the disease more precisely. An important feature of ovarian cancer, and cancer in general, is the reprograming of the metabolic capacity of cancer cells to facilitate their survival. In a recently funded DFG project entitled „Intracellularly derived lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and glycerophospholipid metabolism in ovarian cancer“, key metabolic proteins and their contribution to cancer development are being analysed.

Photo: National Cancer Institute/

Alteration of cellular metabolism is now a recognised feature of cancer development. However, the exact mechanism underlying these changes is not yet fully understood. Some of the metabolic changes have an increased demand for lipids to restructure the cell membrane during, for example, cell division. The bioactive lipid lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), an intermediate produced during the synthesis of cell membranes, is a potent signalling molecule that contributes to the regulation of these processes.

Molecular processes of cancer development

There are reports that LPA levels are elevated in patients with ovarian cancer, which supports the study of LPA in this disease. Most of the work on LPA in cancer has focused on LPA in the extracellular environment. However, recent work by the Toxicology Department shows that LPA inside the cell may also be important in regulating cell function as LPA levels were shown to be associated with cell migration and ovarian cancer tumour growth.

To better understand the role of intracellular LPA in ovarian cancer, a characterisation of the metabolic pathways that regulate LPA content in tumour cells is planned. Molecular biology approaches will be used in ovarian cancer cells and the effects of gene manipulation on a variety of phenotypic endpoints as well as on intracellular lipid and metabolite levels will be investigated. Subsequently, the potential clinical relevance of the findings obtained in vitro will be tested using in vivo models of ovarian cancer.

Scientific Contact: 
Dr. Rosemarie Marchan
Head of Group Cellular Toxicology
Phone: +49 231 1084-213

Dr. Karolina Edlund
Research Associate Toxicology
Phone: +49 231 1084-467

Press contact:
Anne Rommel
Press Officer
Phone: +49 231 1084-239