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Ovarian Cancer Cells Hijack Surrounding Tissues To Enhance Tumor Growth

Tumor growth is dependent on interactions between cancer cells and adjacent normal tissue, or stroma. Stromal cells can stimulate the growth of ; however it is unclear if can influence the stroma. In this issue of the , researchers at report that activate the HOXA9 gene to compel stromal cells to create an environment that supports tumor growth.

and colleagues found that expression of HOXA9 was correlated with poor outcomes in and in mice with ovarian tumors. The expression of HOXA9 in ovarian cancer cells caused the cells to produce a protein called TGF-β. TGF-β then induced the surrounding non-cancerous cells to create an environment that supports the tumor. Blocking TGF-β expression in the ovarian cancer cells significantly reduced tumor growth. These findings raise the possibility that drugs targeting TGF-β could be used to treat ovarian cancer.


“HOXA9 promotes ovarian cancer growth by stimulating cancer-associated fibroblasts” Honami Naora, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Journal of Clinical Investigation Sept. 4, 2012