Research Team Awarded $3.1 Million NIH Grant to Investigate Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer Through Exosome Analysis and Validating Panels of Ovarian-Specific Biomarkers

A research team led by Andrew Godwin, PhD, Deputy Director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and Yong Zeng, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Florida, has been awarded a $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate better ways to identify ovarian cancer earlier. Unlike breast, cervical or colorectal cancer, there is no reliable screening test to detect epithelial forms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancers represent several distinct diseases, which are named after the type of cell they come from: epithelial, germ cell, and stromal. Epithelial ovarian cancers, which represent 85 to 90 percent of malignant ovarian cancers, are a complex group of tumors that arise from multiple different precursor tissues, and the most common and deadliest subtype (high-grade serous) is thought to originate primarily in the fallopian tubes. Epithelial ovarian cancer is referred to as the “silent killer” due to its lack of overt clinical symptoms. By the time a woman knows she has it, the cancer is often advanced. However, when caught early, the prognosis is excellent. Developing non-invasive and highly specific blood-based tests for pre-symptomatic screening and early detection of ovarian cancer is therefore crucial. Dr. Godwin’s laboratory, which has received funding over the years from the OVERRUN Ovarian Cancer Foundation and the Vicki Welsh Ovarian Cancer Fund, is dedicated to finding better, more reliable methods for the detection of this deadly disease, particularly high-grade serous carcinomas, the deadliest form of ovarian cancer that primarily originates in the fallopian tubes and spreads rapidly. “Most women with epithelial ovarian cancer will be diagnosed at a later stage when it has spread and become much more difficult to treat,” Dr. Godwin said. “There is an urgent need to identify novel biomarkers, apply new strategies, and develop technologies to diagnose ovarian cancer earlier.”
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