July 27, 2020
Evolving treatment to evolving tumours: How OICR-supported researchers are getting ahead of ovarian cancer
OICR-supported Phase II trial uncovers how ovarian cancers become resistant to treatment, identifies new opportunities to personalize treatment for future patients
Clinician investigator Dr. Stephanie Lheureux has seen many women fight ovarian cancer – some who overcome the disease and unfortunately many who die. These women inspire Lheureux to find new effective treatments and to continue improving how we treat the disease.
One remarkable patient inspired the EVOLVE trial. After years of keeping her ovarian cancer in check, her cancer began to grow again, indicating that it had become resistant to the maintenance treatment she was on. Lheureux presented the option of palliative chemotherapy, as the latest guidelines suggest, but her patient declined – she wanted a different treatment that would allow her to have a healthy life outside of the hospital.
“This type of chemotherapy requires several visits to the hospital and it’s associated with side effects on patients’ hair, skin and nails,” says Lheureux, Clinician Investigator at the University Health Network’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. “This patient didn’t want to go on standard chemotherapy. She had participated in several clinical trials before, and she urged me to find her another option.”Continue reading – Evolving treatment to evolving tumours: How OICR-supported researchers are getting ahead of ovarian cancer
June 11, 2020
OICR-funded researchers identify promising targets to shut down the spread of ovarian cancer
Despite new targeted therapies, ovarian cancers often spread to other organs in the body and become resistant to drugs, leading to nearly 2,000 deaths in Canada each year according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Dr. Trevor Shepherd is committed to finding new solutions for women with this disease.
In an initiative supported by local ovarian cancer survivors and philanthropic donors, Shepherd and collaborators have discovered a new way to shut down the spread of ovarian cancer. In their recent study published in Cancers, they found a molecular pathway that ovarian tumours require to spread to other organs. The study pinpoints two key proteins along this pathway – LKB1 and NUAK1 – as potential drug targets.Continue reading – Community-driven initiative finds new potential avenue of ovarian cancer treatment
March 24, 2020
Ovarian and pancreatic cancer researchers join forces to debunk which treatments work for which patients
Ovarian and pancreatic cancer are some of the most challenging cancers to treat but their common characteristics have pointed to new treatments for certain subsets of patients. Drs. Stephanie Lheureux and Grainne O’Kane have teamed up to find out which patients can benefit from these new therapies.
Over the next year, with the support of an OICR Translational Research Initiative (TRI) Collaboration Award, Lheureux and O’Kane will be taking a deeper look into patient tumour samples that have a specific DNA damage repair deficiency, called homologous recombination deficiency (HRD). These tumours are thought to be sensitive – meaning, they can be eliminated – with a certain class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, but it is difficult to predict in the clinic whether a patients tumour has HRD or not. Further, it is difficult to determine whether a patient will benefit from using PARP inhibitors.
Lheureux, who is a medical oncologist specializing in ovarian cancers, and O’Kane, who is a medical oncologist specializing in pancreatic cancers, have set out to perform whole-genome analyses on patients with HRD to find a better way to identify which patients may respond to PARP inhibitors. Both researchers are excited to tap into each other’s expertise.
“Dr. Lheureux cares for many patients facing these challenges,” says O’Kane. “She has deep clinical expertise in this area.”
“Dr. O’Kane and her closest collaborators have excellent expertise in whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics,” says Lheureux. “We’re eager to work together.”
Their analyses may help them understand the biological mechanisms driving HRD and how HRD tumours become resistant to treatment. Their findings may also extend beyond ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
“We want to define the biological response to PARP inhibitors and the mechanism of resistance so that we can help these patients make the best treatment decisions for their specific disease,” says O’Kane.
“We’re motivated to redefine HRD and understand it on a deeper level to help us overcome resistance to treatment and extend the lives of those with these cancers,” says Lheureux.
Lheureux and O’Kane’s collaboration is supported by OICR’s TRI Collaboration Award, a pilot funding stream to support the training of young investigators and encourage collaboration amongst OICR’s TRI teams.
December 13, 2018
What can we gain from looking at the outliers?: An investigation into long and short-term ovarian cancer survivors
Researchers investigate the clinical, molecular and microenvironment factors that contribute to extreme therapy response and resistance in ovarian cancer patients
Some patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) respond exceptionally well to therapy, while others experience rapid disease relapse. The mechanisms behind these disparate outcomes are poorly understood, but a group of researchers based at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM) supported by OICR’s Ovarian Cancer Translational Research Initiative (TRI) are working to change that.Continue reading – What can we gain from looking at the outliers?: An investigation into long and short-term ovarian cancer survivors
November 6, 2018
Researchers studying ovarian cancer identify adapter protein 3BP2 as a key component of immune system function and a powerful tool that could be used to activate the immune system against hidden tumour cells.