Identifying how to stop the growth of ovarian cancer

What’s the problem?

When ovarian cancers  grow and spread to other parts of a woman’s body they become harder to treat and the risk of death dramatically increases. The survival rate for stage one ovarian cancer, located in one or both ovaries, is 92%. But the survival rate for stage four ovarian cancer, that has spread to other parts of the body e.g. outside the abdomen, is less than 15% at 10 years.

  • Aim: To find new ways to stop ovarian cancer from growing and spreading to other parts of the body beyond the confines of the ovary.
  • Lead: Professor Hani Gabra
  • Scientists funded by Ovarian Cancer Action: Professor Hani Gabra, Dr Chiara Recchi, Dr Sushmita Roy-Nawathe and Dr Elena Sokolskaja and Dr Elisa Zanini
  • Non Ovarian Cancer Action funded members: Dr Andrew Paterson, Susi Tan, Jane Anthony, Haonan Lu and Youngrock Jung

What’s the science?

  • The protein, OPCML, is expressed in normal tissues inside the body
  • The Ovarian Cancer Action Research team have found that this protein is switched off in the cells of people who have ovarian cancer
  • It follows that switching on the OPCML protein may prevent the spread of ovarian cancer in the body
  • To back this up, the team have found that when they make cancer cells in the laboratory produce more OPCML protein than normal, they grow at a much slower rate
  • In 2012 the team announced that the OPCML protein is also switched off in most colorectal, endometrial, brain, renal, breast, lung and other cancers

How will this affect ovarian cancer treatment?

The Ovarian Cancer Action Research team want to understand how the OPCML protein is switched off in order to create new drugs designed around the protein that can be used in clinics to prevent the growth and spread of ovarian cancer.

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