BREAKING through complex chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer patients could become as simple as an extra tablet in treatment under work led by Ballarat researchers.
Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute has found an inhibitor drug used with chemotherapy is creating a stronger response in the fight against the silent killer, known for high rates of chemo-resistant recurrence in women.
The study, in collaboration with New York-based Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found Magmas - which are an important protein in all cells in the body - increase their activity in ovarian cancer cells and chemo-resistant ovarian cancer.
So, they worked with an inhibitor drug to target the Magmas in high-grade ovarian cancer.
The study has been published in high-profile international science journal Cells this month. While the theory has worked in laboratory conditions, it would still need to undergo clinical trials before being put into practise.
FECRI honorary director George Kannourakis said this latest find is an important step in tackling such a complex cancer, which has a low survival rate.
"One you stop responding to chemotherapy, there aren't too many options for ovarian cancer patients," Professor Kannourakis said. "...We have been able to put together and publish a study that suggests there is a role an inhibitor drug could play to change this."
- READ MORE: What does a Ballarat breakthrough mean in tackling ovarian cancer? (June 2018)
The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer patients is less than 45 per cent, compared to 90 per cent for people diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ephitherlial ovarian cancer, with cells forming on the outside of the ovary, is the most common form and makes up 95 per cent of cases. It is the eighth most common cause of cancer death in Australian women.
About 1400 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, most in advanced stages, due to the seemingly silent symptoms. Most commonly reported ovarian cancer symptoms are: persistent bloating, lower tummy pain, feeling full after eating a small amount, frequent or urgent need to urinate.
Research in Ballarat was led by Professor Nuzhat Ahmed with inhibitor samples from Albert Einstien where Professor Paul Jubinsky, a FECRI visiting professor two years ago, is based.
This latest study builds on the multi-pronged approach Professor Ahmed's team has been making to understand the mechanisms and molecules in chemotherapy resistance between responsive and non-responsive cancer cells.
For more about FECRI research, visit fecri.org.au.
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