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Grant Advances Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Efforts

December 30, 2019

Researchers at The University of Kansas Cancer Center have received a three-year, $900,000 grant from the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) to better understand why epithelial ovarian cancers take decades to develop as well as identify methods for early detection. Epithelial ovarian cancer accounts for about 90% of all ovarian cancer cases.

The OCRA Collaborative Research Development grant brings together physician-scientists, biomedical researchers and biomedical engineers to study the cause of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), a type of epithelial cancer, by focusing on the role of extracellular vesicles in the pathogenesis of the disease. According to Andrew Godwin, PhD, principal investigator and deputy director of the cancer center, extracellular vesicles are chock-full of valuable information providing clues to initiation and development of HGSOC and are ideal targets for liquid-based biopsies. The team is utilizing a novel microfluidic platform to recreate a 28-day menstrual cycle with three-dimensional ovaries and primary human fallopian tissue.

The ongoing collaborative research with Drs. Joanna Burdette at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Yong Zeng at the University of Kansas will help determine how ovarian cancer-derived exosomes can modify the cells in the fallopian tube and turn on signals that convert normal cells into preneoplastic lesions as well as develop innovative molecular tools to better detect ovarian cancer at earlier stages when therapies are curative,” Dr. Godwin said. “We are extremely grateful to OCRA for their vision to support these innovative strategies, which helps us understand the role of tumor-derived small extracellular vesicles in the malignant transformation of progenitor cells using a novel microfluidic platform.

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