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Discovery of ovarian cancer target paves way for new treatment strategy

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There are several subtypes of ovarian cancer – depending on the ovariancancer-1type of tissue and cells involved. One of these is ovarian clear cell carcinoma, which affects up to 10% of ovarian cancer patients in the US and about 20% of patients in Asia.

While ovarian cancer patients initially respond to standard platinum-based chemotherapy, the response rate for those with ovarian clear cell carcinoma is typically poor and, unfortunately, there are currently no effective alternative therapies.

Researchers at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA, hope their discovery will pave the way to much-needed treatments.

Their study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, takes ovarian cancer into a growing new area of cancer treatment – personalized therapy.

Corresponding author Rugang Zhang, an associate professor in Wistar’s Gene Expression and Regulation Program, says their study offers a target for effectively halting the progression of ovarian cancer in a personalized manner, depending on the patient’s genetic makeup. He adds:

Fast facts about ovarian cancer

  • Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system
  • The vast majority of women who get ovarian cancer are middle-aged and older
  • Early detection is key to treatment success.

Prof. Zhang and colleagues studied a chromatin remodeling gene called ARID1A, which has been implicated in a number of cancers.

ARID1A allows chromatin – a protein structure that packs DNA tightly inside cells – to open up so cells can receive signals that tell them what to do. This is important for stopping them becoming cancerous.

Recent studies have shown that ARID1A is mutated in over half of patients with ovarian clear cell carcinoma; in fact, the gene has one of the highest mutation rates among all types of cancer.Ovarian cancer is a deadly cancer with few treatments available, and the prognosis is particularly bleak for women diagnosed with certain subtypes. Now, a new study brings fresh hope in the form of a new treatment target for a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

There are several subtypes of ovarian cancer – depending on the type of tissue and cells involved. One of these is ovarian clear cell carcinoma, which affects up to 10% of ovarian cancer patients in the US and about 20% of patients in Asia.

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