Sanaz Memarzadeh awarded $1.2 million to study recurrent ovarian cancer

Dr. Sanaz Memarzadeh
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Dr. Sanaz Memarzadeh, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a physician-scientist in the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, received a $1.2 million grant from the Veterans Affairs Office to better understand what causes ovarian cancer to recur and how to better target the aggressive, and often deadly, malady.

The grant will help support Memarzadeh, who is also director of the G.O. Discovery Lab, and her team’s investigation into recurrent platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, a form of the disease that no longer responds well to traditional treatments like chemotherapy. Once in this state, the cancer becomes de-differentiated — meaning that it reverts back to a less-mature cell — and may adopt characteristics of small cell cancers.

The researchers want to understand molecular changes that occur during this process and aim to identify unique vulnerabilities in these cancer cells. The goal: to define the essential survival pathways of these neuroendocrine-like tumor cells and test drugs that can effectively eliminate them.

“The ultimate aim is to develop new therapeutic approaches for ovarian cancer treatment, with the hope of advancing to clinical trials to benefit patients,” said Memarzadeh, who serves patients at UCLA and at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.