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TCD study aiming to improve personalisation of ovarian cancer treatment

Study on drug resistant ovarian cancer cells could lead to more personalised treatment of the cancer.

Image: Sue Waters via Creative Commons

RESEARCHERS AT DUBLIN’S Trinity College have published a new study on the drug-resistance encountered by some ovarian cancer patients which they hope will help improve clinical treatment of the disease.

Around 4 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in women worldwide is ovarian, and around 204,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.

Although chemotherapy is the only treatment option, many ovarian cancer patients develop a resistance to chemotherapy.

Tailoring the chemotherapy drug used in breast cancer treatment according to the cancer subtype has improved outcomes for breast cancer patients. TCD researcher Dr Britta Stordal says that if ovarian cancer patients can be subdivided into different resistance categories, “we can start personalising the treatment of this disease”.

“The cost of patients receiving chemotherapy that they do not respond to is high, both for the patients and financially for the healthcare system,” she said. “By understanding how chemotherapy resistance develops in ovarian cancer, we can determine the best drug to prescribe to each patient.”

She said that tailoring the treatment on an individual bases of relapsed patients “can only improve cancer treatment in terms of increased response rates”.

The TCD study has been working with drug-resistant ovarian cancer cells developed in a Dutch lab. These cells have molecular markers of resistance and highlight the multiple mechanisms which can be found in such resistant cells.

TCD researchers say they will now work on samples of tumours from ovarian cancer patients to examine those markers.

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Stordal says she hopes the study will find markets that can separate patients who respond and those who do not respond to the chemotherapy drugs used in first-line ovarian cancer treatment. Patients who have a reduced chance of responding to the treatment could then be offered alternative treatment.

The resistance research paper has been published in the PLoS One science publication.

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