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New classification system “Oxford Classic” can create accurate predictions of ovarian cancer outcomes

14 January 2021


Ovarian Cancer Action funded researcher, Professor Ahmed Ahmed, from the University of Oxford Weatherall Institute, is already making several exciting breakthroughs with his research - in more areas than one. 

Professor Ahmed and his team are working to better understand how ovarian cancer starts, in order to develop the world's first ovarian cancer screening tool.

Last year, his team found six new cell types of origin for the majority of ovarian cancers. They showed that these cells are mirrored into ovarian cancer subtypes, which gives us a clue to how these ovarian cancers start. The scientists dubbed this new way of categorising ovarian cancer cells as the ‘Oxford Classification of Carcinoma of the Ovary’ or ‘Oxford Classic’ for short.

Not only does the Oxford Classic give us clues about how ovarian cancer starts, but the research has enabled the prediction of patient outcomes for some ovarian cancers, and could lead on to the development of new individualised treatments. The project has uncovered a subtype that has poorer outcomes due to the cells increased mobility, meaning they can spread further through the body. They also found that this subtype can suppress the immune system, making the cancer even more aggressive, a link that has not been shown before. These discoveries will lead to more targeted and individualised therapies for women with ovarian cancer.

Chief Executive Cary Wakefield, said: "While other cancers have achieved major improvements in treatment outcomes, ovarian cancer continues to go unrecognised, underfunded, and misdiagnosed. The Oxford Classic is an exciting breakthrough that will help to identify new treatment options for ovarian cancers that have a lower chance of survival. Funding important research like this will bring us closer towards a shared goal of more women surviving ovarian cancer."

We are excited to see what Professor Ahmed’s team discovers next, which will help us in our goal of more women surviving ovarian cancer.

Find out more about our research projects here.