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Keele University Awarded Funds to Research Chemotherapy Resistance in Ovarian Cancer

17.11.2006
New research into the treatment of ovarian cancer, which could result in better treatment and survival rates for sufferers, is the latest research project to be awarded a grant by WellBeing of Women, the only UK charity dedicated to solving the health problems that solely affect women.

WellBeing of Women has awarded Miss Esther Moss at Keele University a Research Training Fellowship of over £101,500 to identify the specific genes involved in chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer. Funds for the research were raised by the generous support of the general public during the charity’s annual ovarian cancer awareness campaign, which has run for the past four years.

Ovarian cancer is currently diagnosed in almost 7,000 women in the UK each year. Despite advances in surgical techniques and chemotherapy treatments, very few women with ovarian cancer will survive long-term - the 5-year survival rate is around 30% (compared with 70% for breast cancer). Chemotherapy is an effective initial treatment for late stage ovarian cancer with approximately 70-80% of patients experiencing a reduction in the size of the cancer (partial response), or the disappearance of the cancer (complete response).

Carboplatin used in chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, kills tumour cells by forcing them to undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis). However these effects are not sustained and the majority of tumours will recur due to the growth of drug resistant cancer cells, which escape apoptosis. Previous research has shown that there are differences in gene expression, between cancer cells killed by the chemotherapy, and those that are able to survive.

Commenting of the study, Miss Esther Moss said, ”The primary outcome of this research will be to identify genes whose function, when disrupted, leads to chemo resistance in ovarian cancer. Identification of the genes involved in resistance to chemotherapy might provide biomarkers to aid in the conventional management of patients, and may also lead to the development of novel mechanism-based therapies for ovarian cancer.”

The charity’s Director, Liz Campbell said; “These awards are particularly important in encouraging medical graduates to pursue obstetrics and gynaecology at a time when different specialties are competing for the brightest and best. Research Training Fellowships are just one way that WellBeing of Women makes a valuable contribution to the development of tomorrow’s innovative medical leaders.”

Chris Stone | alfa
Further information:
http://www.keele.ac.uk

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