BLOG: Research Profile Dr. Emil Lou

BLOG: Research Profile Dr. Emil Lou

“The landscape for research funding is more challenging than ever before. Your support is crucial to our work.” – Emil Lou, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Emil Lou is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. At MOCA’s Annual Meeting in May, Dr. Lou was awarded $80,000 in MOCA funding for his research project titled, “Targeting channels of ovarian tumor cell communication.”

Dr. Lou explains his research project and why MOCA funding from supporters like you is so vital.

The Problem:

Approximately 22,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. 20 to 30 percent of these cases become resistant to standard-of-care chemotherapy, and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of this chemoresistance are a barrier to developing more effective therapies.

How ovarian cancer cells communicate in the complex tumor microenvironment is critical, but not yet fully understood as a potential target for treatment of patients.

The Project: 

We will investigate a unique form of cell-to-cell communication in cancer called tunneling nanotubes (TNTs), which are long, spontaneously-occurring cell extensions that serve as cellular “nano-highways” for transfer of key molecular signals of cancer growth and invasion.

This knowledge could provide insight into mechanisms that can be targeted by drugs to stop this communication and to prevent resistance to chemotherapies in patients.

Our team believes the formation and presence of TNTs may serve as a potential novel marker of more aggressive forms of ovarian cancers, and likely in other similarly aggressive and difficult-to-treat forms of cancer, as well.

Why Does this Project Hold Promise to Women with Ovarian Cancer?

Our goal is to identify – at the cellular and molecular levels – the components that drive TNTs to form and stimulate ovarian tumor communication. This knowledge may lead to the identification of pathways that can be targeted and validated, with the goal of providing new, treatment approaches for patients with advanced ovarian cancers.

How will this MOCA funding spur on research?

The landscape for research funding is more challenging than ever before. As a result, projects that are innovative and that inherently carry high risk, but also have strong potential for high rewards, are having immense difficulty receiving enough funds to move novel ideas forward. Projects including ours are now able to move forward, full speed ahead, thanks to generous funding from everyone on the MOCA team.

Support from people like you spurs on promising research. MOCA is a national leader in ovarian cancer research funding, having provided nearly $9 million to ovarian cancer research.