Dialog Box

Hope for women with BRCA-related ovarian cancer

Despite the growing awareness in the Australian community of BCRA mutations and their connection to breast cancer, members of the public are often unaware that BRCA mutations are also a risk factor for ovarian cancers. BCRA germline mutations are associated with 10 to 15 per cent of high-grade serous ovarian cancers, putting those carrying this mutation at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. 

Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have recently seen exciting success in the use of an antibiotic (Novobiocin) to target and kill cancer cells that exhibit mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, including ovarian cancers. In particular, researchers have found that those tumours that were resistant to PARP inhibitors (PARPi) were also responsive to the antibiotic.

OCRF spokesperson, Dr Geraldine Goss offered her reflection on these research findings with regard to improving the treatment for ovarian cancers.

"The identification of the BRCA genes identified women at high risk for ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Subsequent research into the function of these genes significantly advanced our understanding of the biology of ovarian cancer and provided a target for therapy. The relationship between the BRCA gene and the PARP proteins led to the development of drugs aimed at blocking the function of the PARP proteins (‘PARP inhibitors’/PARPi). These drugs have conferred significant benefit to many women with ovarian cancer. However, as observed with chemotherapy drugs, cancers can develop resistance to PARP inhibitors, limiting their ability to control cancer growth.

This exciting study suggests that an existing antibiotic drug may aid in overcoming this resistance. The techniques used in the study included use of three-dimensional cell clusters derived from tumour tissue from women with ovarian cancer. The OCRF funds similar research in the The Precision Medicine project, which enables thousands of drugs to be tested in the laboratory setting with the hope of identifying drugs that can be used in the clinic to combat chemo-resistance that is all too common for ovarian cancer patients.

This study highlights the importance of ongoing research into the biology of ovarian cancer, as it illustrates that research conducted decades after a drug is first developed can potentially identify a useful treatment. We await the results of clinical trials with great interest."

You can read more about the planned clinical trial by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the article below.

Read the article 

funding research to save lives

The OCRF is the leading non-governmental funder of ovarian cancer research in Australia, focussing on research projects that will have the greatest impact for the greatest number of women. Learn more about innovative research currently being funded by the OCRF.

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05 July 2021
Category: Research news