The overall goal of our translational research program is to develop novel therapeutics and pharmacologically-driven strategies for improving the treatment of cancer patients. We use biochemical, molecular and genetic techniques to elucidate the mechanisms by which tumors become resistant to drugs, and then use this information to design new drugs and drug delivery systems to prevent or reverse resistance. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms of resistance to the platinum-containing drugs (cisplatin, carboplatin and oxaliplatin) that are widely used for the treatment of many types of cancer. We are developing protein-based therapeutics for the treatment of ovarian cancer consisting of a domain that targets to the tumor linked to various types of toxins, and have established a variety of mouse models of ovarian cancer. This laboratory has played a major role in the development of intraperitoneal therapy for ovarian cancer, and other pharmacologic strategies for enhancing the efficacy of the platinum drugs. We developed the DepoFoam drug delivery system, upon which the marketed drug DepoCyt is founded, and several polymer-based systems that are now in clinical trials. Additional nanoparticle and polymer-based systems are in preclinical development.
The Howell Lab is a major component of the Solid Tumor Therapeutics (formerly Tumor Growth and Metastasis) Program and Cancer Pharmacology Program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.