Despite advances in surgery and chemotherapy, less than 20% of patients with stage III or IV ovarian cancer survive long-term. In the past, cytotoxic regimens have been developed empirically, combining active agents at maximally tolerated doses, often without a clear rationale for their interaction. Advances in understanding the biology of ovarian cancer have identified multiple molecular targets that differ in normal and malignant cells. Targets include cell cycle regulators, growth factor receptors, signal transduction pathways, molecules that confer drug resistance, and angiogenic mechanisms. A number of targeted agents have entered clinical trials. Small molecular weight inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, and antisense and gene therapy are all being evaluated alone and in combination with cytotoxic drugs. In contrast to earlier studies, the impact of each agent on the designated target can be assessed and agents can be matched to the genotype and phenotype of malignant and normal cells. In the long run, this should facilitate individualization of more effective, less toxic therapy for women with ovarian cancer.
- signal transduction
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Correspondence: John J. Kavanagh, M.D., Department of Gynecologic Medical Oncology, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 401, Houston, Texas 77030-4009. Telephone: 713-792-7960. Fax: 713-745-1541. E-mail:
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