Ovarian Cancer Treatment Stratification Using Ex Vivo Drug Sensitivity Testing

Anticancer Res. 2019 Aug;39(8):4023-4030. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.13558.


Background: Treatment options for patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer are generally palliative in nature and rarely have realistic potential to be curative. Because many patients with recurrent ovarian cancer receive aggressive chemotherapy for prolonged periods, sometimes continuously, therapy-related toxicities are a major factor in treatment decisions. The use of ex vivo drug sensitivity screens has the potential to improve the treatment of patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer by providing personalized treatment plans and thus reducing toxicity from unproductive therapy attempts.

Materials and methods: We evaluated the treatment responses of a set of six early-passage patient-derived ovarian cancer cell lines towards a set of 30 Food and Drug Administration-approved chemotherapy drugs using drug-sensitivity testing.

Results: We observed a wide range of treatment responses of the cell lines. While most compounds displayed vastly different treatment responses between cell lines, we found that some compounds such as docetaxel and cephalomannine reduced cell survival of all cell lines.

Conclusion: We propose that ex vivo drug-sensitivity screening holds the potential to greatly improve patient outcomes, especially in a population where multiple continuous treatments are not an option due to advanced disease, rapid disease progression, age or poor overall health. This approach may also be useful to identify potential novel therapeutics for patients with ovarian cancer.

Keywords: Ovarian cancer; ex vivo drug sensitivity screening; precision medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Platinum / adverse effects
  • Platinum / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Platinum