Insights from basic science dissecting carcinogenesis in the fallopian tube and ovary have led to a deeper understanding of the origin, molecular characteristics, and types of ovarian cancers. This logically then has led to the development of novel approaches to treat ovarian cancer. Increasingly, novel agents are being developed to target the different growth pathways. The identification of molecular markers associated with different histopathologies has resulted in newer clinical trial designs to capture both clinical and translational endpoints. Unique molecular characteristics in DNA damage and repair pathways and unique cell surface markers have driven new drug development, yielding promise for both patients with platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant ovarian cancers. Specific examples described include the histology-selective mutations, such as ARID1A in clear cell and endometrioid ovarian cancers; the rationale for using cell cycle checkpoint inhibitors when there already is a p53-mediated loss of cell cycle checkpoint regulation or combinations of agents that will both induce neoantigen formation and unleash immune modulators; and techniques to enhance the therapeutic delivery of known agents. A systematic and thoughtful approach to combining agents in clinical trials is needed so that irrespective of the trial outcomes, the results inform both clinical and translational endpoints.
Published 2019 This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.