Background: Epithelial ovarian cancer has a poor prognosis, mostly due to its late diagnosis and the development of drug resistance after a first platinum-based regimen. The presence of a specific population of “cancer stem cells” could be responsible of the relapse of the tumor and the development of resistance to therapy. For this reason, it would be important to specifically target this subpopulation of tumor cells in order to increase the response to therapy.
Method: We screened a chemical compound library assembled during the COST CM1106 action to search for compound classes active in targeting ovarian stem cells. We here report the results of the high-throughput screening assay in two ovarian cancer stem cells and the differentiated cells derived from them.
Results and Conclusion: Interestingly, there were compounds active only on stem cells, only on differentiated cells, and compounds active on both cell populations. Even if these data need to be validated in ad hoc dose response cytotoxic experiments, the ongoing analysis of the compound structures will open up to mechanistic drug studies to select compounds able to improve the prognosis of ovarian cancer patients.