Advanced-stage ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers. Standard therapies have been used for decades with little improvement in survival rates, largely due to commonly acquired resistance to chemotherapy and late-stage diagnoses.

New therapeutic approaches are needed to improve patient outcome. The Immunometabolism and Cancer Immunology Laboratory of Marion R. Curtis, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic's campus in Phoenix, Arizona, is focusing on immune cell metabolism and the discovery of tumor antigens to improve responses and achieve better outcomes for people with ovarian cancer.

Dr. Curtis is translating findings from the characterization of the immune cell landscape of metastatic ovarian cancer to patient care. Certain immune cell subsets may be under- or overrepresented in metastatic disease. These results could potentially be used as biomarkers to instruct the use of different therapies.

Dr. Curtis' long-term goal is to identify metabolic drivers of immune cell function in the tumor microenvironment, improving immunotherapy response. Dr. Curtis' lab uses co-culture systems with human cells and mouse models to elucidate the metabolic state of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment and determine how stromal cells influence the immune response to immunotherapy.

Immunopeptidomics helps Dr. Curtis' research team discover clinically relevant antigens present in individual tumors. Ongoing research projects focus on using these antigens to develop personalized, multiantigen dendritic cell vaccines to treat advanced-stage ovarian cancer.

About Dr. Curtis

Dr. Curtis is a scientist at Mayo Clinic's campus in Phoenix, Arizona, and an assistant professor of immunology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Her research is focused on discovering metabolic drivers of immune cell function in the tumor microenvironment to improve immunotherapy response in ovarian cancer.