OCRF funding has helped build technologically advanced, cutting edge laboratory environments for ovarian cancer research; and permitted the stable retention of scientific expertise, a crucial component for long-term research endeavours. The visionary nature of OCRF funding in this regard has been a crucial feature in driving ongoing success.
Support from the community and corporate partners has allowed the OCRF to fund researchers to develop a comprehensive, internationally competitive program of ovarian cancer research. Some of the key outcomes so far include:
- Development of a novel diagnostic assay for high grade ovarian cancers, aimed at early tumour detection. Based on proven cancer biology, this assay is currently in pre-clinical testing.
- Repurposing of a new anti-diabetes drug for immune stimulation in ovarian cancers, with the potential for rapid clinical translation. This drug is currently being examined in combination with chemo- and immuno-therapeutics to provide enhanced anti-cancer efficacy.
- Development of a novel immune targeting strategy designed to halt tumour progression, with the added potential for therapeutic or preventative vaccination.
- Identification of several novel cancer biomarkers, specifically associated with early disease onset, for added efficacy in diagnostic or prognostic profiling.
- Ongoing maintenance of the OCRF sponsored tissue banking program, which has grown to become one of the largest repositories of ovarian cancer tissues for research; over 2200 patients have participated in this program to date.
A Snapshot of Recent Successes
The Adelaide Group, under the direction of Professor Martin K Oehler, has identified three autoantibodies with high accuracy in detecting early stage ovarian cancer. Their utility for early detection has been validated in an international patient cohort from medical centres in the USA, Canada, Germany, Australia and Singapore. A screening assay for clinical application is currently being developed, and this innovative approach could represent a breakthrough in early ovarian cancer detection.
Other OCRF-funded research projects in Adelaide have investigated the interactions between ovarian cancer cells and the inner lining of the abdominal cavity during the metastatic process. A specific protein was identified which is instrumental for this process. It was also identified in the blood stream of patients and therefore holds considerable promise as both a therapeutic target and diagnostic marker.
Research by Dr Caroline Ford of the Metastasis Research Group at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at University of New South Wales studies key pathways responsible for cancer initiation and progression. Two cell receptors have been found to be up-regulated in ovarian cancers cells and to promote metastasis as well as resistance to chemotherapy. Therefore, these cell receptors are potential novel drug targets in metastatic and ovarian cancer patients with recurrent chemo-resistant disease.
Some related successes include:
In addition to direct research outcomes, the OCRF funding model has been instrumental in raising the profile of ovarian cancer research both nationally and internationally. Our use of experts in the field to filter and select research studies in a strategic manner has led to significant achievements.
- Global recognition – OCRF-funded research has been presented at numerous scientific conferences and appeared in national and international media, making a significant contribution to Australia’s research profile on the international stage
- Leveraged funding – Over $3 million in independently sourced external funding (both national and international) has been leveraged against OCRF-funded projects, in support of ongoing ovarian cancer research
- Publications – arising from OCRF funded research, hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles have been published since 2006
- Impact on clinical practice – OCRF-funded projects have contributed to the successful patenting and implementation of specific tests for ovarian cancer, most notably those around a molecule “inhibin” used for the diagnosis and monitoring of specific ovarian tumour types
- Collaborative research opportunities – OCRF-funded projects have contributed to multiple inter-institutional and cross-disciplinary research collaborations, involving some of Australia’s leading researchers
Read more about research successes in our News Section