Researching the Secrets of Cancer Killer Number Five: Gaining Against Ovarian Cancer

2011-08-18 | |
Last updated: 2011-08-18

What’s New In Understanding Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer Genes Identified

One of the important leaps in the understanding of Ovarian Cancer came only months ago. Research efforts lead by the University of Houston decoded the genetic fingerprint of the most common form of Ovarian Cancer. Analyzing more than 300 tumor samples, they found more than 60 genes that could be investigated for their role in the disease. However, they also found that one gene mutation is common in 96% of these cancers.

This finding is good news because it means that the research efforts can focus on this gene to attempt to treat the cancer. In many cancers, a number of different genetic mutations to different genes can result in distinct forms of a cancer. Such situations make the research more complex and time consuming but this does seem to be the case for Ovarian Cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Spread Directly Observed

A second important gain in the understanding of the disease came from efforts to see how the cancer starts. Harvard University researchers captured the initial stages of Ovarian Cancer using time lapse photography. They found that Ovarian Cancer cells push other cells out of the way and move between them in order to spread, much like an impatient brute in a crowd. From these observations, they were able to identify the specific cell proteins that are involved in the movement of Ovarian Cancer cells.

By knowing how these cancer cells spread, the researchers have key information that they can now use to develop drugs that slow the movement of these cells. Slowing the spread of Ovarian Cancer cells is important because of the usual late stage diagnosis of this cancer.

Ovarian Tumor Growth Interrupted

One last advance in Ovarian Cancer knowledge made recently involves learning how Ovarian tumors grow. Researchers from the University of Michigan discovered that the cancerous stem cells responsible for tumor growth recruit other non-cancerous stem cells to help in growing the tumor. The researchers then found that by interfering with this recruitment process that the tumors could be prevented from growing in size.

This finding is very useful because in late stage Ovarian Cancer, continued tumor growth causes the tumor to interfere with the operation of other organs. If tumor growth can be stopped, organ failure can be prevented and life can be prolonged.

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Category: Medical Research, Medical Treatment

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