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Ronald Buckanovich

Ronald Buckanovich

Program: Cancer Biology

412-641-4721 204 Craft Avenue, B333
Pittsburgh PA

Ovarian cancer is a disease that has high rates of resistance to both chemotherapy and immunotherapy. This therapeutic resistance drives a poor prognosis for patients with ovarian cancer. A primary focus of my group is to understand therapeutic resistance and develop therapeutic approaches to overcome this resistance. We are working to understand both cancer cell inherent mechanisms of therapeutic resistance and how interactions with host cells in the tumor microenvironment increase therapeutic resistance. 

We are currently focusing on understanding the biology of a population of slowly dividing/non-dividing or ‘quiescent’ cancer cells. These quiescent cells are inherently resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy – both of which kill fast growing cells. Upon exposure to chemotherapy, we find that these cells quiescent cells secrete novel factors to make neighboring cells resistant to both chemotherapy and immunotherapies. Following completion of chemotherapy treatment these quiescent cells can resume proliferation and drive disease recurrence. 

Furthermore, following chemotherapy exposure, these cells secrete additional factors which create an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Given the critical role of these cells in therapeutic resistance, we are developing novel therapeutic approaches to kill these otherwise resistant cells. Based on our findings we are currently running two different clinical trials to determine if we can prevent chemotherapy or immunotherapy resistance.  

Research Interests and Keywords
  • cancer stem cells
  • ovarian cancer
  • targeted therapies
  • tumor vasculature
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