OCRF awards $3.2 million in ovarian cancer research grants
The OCRF is excited to announce the awarding of more than $3.2 million dollars towards research grants as part of the 2019 OCRF grant funding process. This record funding demonstrates the OCRF’s dedication to shining a light on ovarian cancer, leading to a future without fear of ovarian cancer.
Over $1.5 million dollars has been awarded to three new research projects that focus on new forms of effective treatment, combating drug resistant disease, as well as tackling recurrence prevention. A further $1.08 million has been allocated for existing early detection projects, whilst an additional $700,000 has been awarded for collaborative research projects, providing new hope to combat the disease.
Why we need to act
The statistics for ovarian cancer remain frightening. Every day, four Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer; three will die from the disease. Unlike other cancers, there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer and because symptoms are vague, more than 75% of those diagnosed are already in the advanced stages of the disease.
Treatment for ovarian cancer is aggressive and most often consists of surgery, including the removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus, followed by intensive chemotherapy. Though initially successful treatments, 9 out of 10 women will develop recurrent or drug resistant disease, many not surviving beyond 5 years.
Exciting new research
It is these facts that drive the OCRF to fund new research initiatives, such as these 2019 grant recipients, that are focussed on saving women’s lives through early detection and effective personalised treatment.
Dr Maree Bilandzic from Victoria’s Hudson Institute of Medical Research was awarded almost $800,000 to develop her research into screening drugs for their effectiveness in targeting chemotherapy resistant ‘leader cells’: deadly ovarian cancer cells that can survive and thrive in response to treatment.
“The results of this work will be immediate. It will offer ovarian cancer patients the chance to be disease-free,” Dr Bilandzic said.
Another research grant recipient targeting treatment resistant ovarian cancer is Associate Professor Jason Lee from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. His research project, awarded $187,000, focuses on developing a new treatment to stop G9a proteins found in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) cells from functioning. This causes the cells to grow more slowly, ultimately killing them.
“We have data suggesting that when G9a inhibitor is combined with chemotherapy, the dose of chemotherapy can be reduced by a third. This will not only reduce the harsh side-effects of chemotherapy, but also decrease the likelihood of patients developing chemotherapy resistance,” Associate Professor Lee said.
The third recipient of a new OCRF grant focuses on prevention. Associate Professor Pradeep Tanwar from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute was awarded just over $566,000 toward his research into the development of a preventative pill for ovarian cancer.
Associate Professor Tanwar and his team’s previous research has found a link between hormones, particularly progesterone, and their ability to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. The team, personally motivated after losing a close colleague to ovarian cancer, plan to develop a hormonal pill that mimics the anti-cancer properties they have discovered in pregnancy and the contraceptive pill.
The OCRF recognises the importance of collaborating with peers to grow the pool of funds available to the ovarian cancer research community.
The collaborative grants, just shy of $700,000, were awarded to the Precision Medicine project, in collaboration with Australian New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG), the Ovarian Cancer Tissue Bank, and a jointly funded ovarian cancer project in collaboration with the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).
OCRF grant impact
One of the largest not-for-profit funders of ovarian cancer research in Australia, the OCRF is actively leading the fight against ovarian cancer, having awarded over $16.5 million since 2001 to worthy Australian researchers. The OCRF continues working to ensure that no woman is left in the dark when it comes to ovarian cancer.
The OCRF continues to encourage researchers to innovate and apply for funding. This year a record 31 research project applications were received. Grants were awarded following a rigorous process, presided over by the OCRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). The SAC has selected the most promising research based on scientific merit and alignment with the OCRF’s research priorities: treatments, recurrence, early detection and prevention.
The 2019 grant recipients have all demonstrated an innovative approach to detecting, treating or preventing ovarian cancer, leaving the OCRF confident that the research is on the path to life saving discoveries.
“We are encouraged by the veracity of these projects, and optimistic that more women’s lives will be saved by the efforts of our researchers.” OCRF Chief Executive Lucinda Nolan said.