Ovarian Cancer Research, Advances and Treatments

Ovarian Cancer Research, Advances and Treatments

COMPILED BY JOHN JOSEPH PARKER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

AS SEPTEMBER IS NATIONAL Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, COMMERCE features a few of the latest advances in treat­ment and disease management. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth as the cause of cancer death in women and is the ninth most common cancer in women (not counting skin cancer).

New Research Identifies Genes Associated with an Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Earlier this year, Nature Genetics published a study, in part funded by the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA), that found 34 genes were connected to women developing the earliest stages of ovarian cancer. Using data compiled by the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, researchers looked at the genetic profiles of around 25,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 45,000 women without the disease. Looking at the genetic variants in a new way and being able to use a large amount of data with which to compare it to, allowed them to identify those new genes.

OCRA, American Cancer Society Launch Joint Ovarian Cancer Research Initiative

In a new collaboration, the American Cancer Society and Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) have joined forces to fund multidisciplinary research projects to explore new ways of detect­ing, treating, and preventing ovarian cancer relapse and for improving quality of life among those diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The two organizations are committing to a total investment of $8 million to sustain four research teams over four years.

Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death over­all among women. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2019, about 22,530 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 13,980 women will die from the disease.

Four out of five women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have advanced disease, which is associated with an increased risk of persistent and recurrent cancer following initial treatment. While advanced ovarian cancer can be treat­able, it is rarely curable. There is current­ly no way to predict which women in remission will experience short-term ver­sus long-term survival from ovarian can­cer, or which women are at risk for high symptom burden during survivorship.

This joint initiative seeks to raise funds to support four multidisciplinary research teams to investigate biological, clinical, and psychosocial factors associated with ovarian cancer outcomes. A better understanding of these factors will lead to new avenues for detecting, treating, and preventing ovarian cancer relapse and for improving quality of life. Once initial funding is acquired, a request for proposal/critical peer review process will select the four research teams.

 Combination Niraparib Plus Pembrolizumub Shows Promise

Results of new trials show that combi­nation niraparib plus pembrolizumab therapy showed promising antitumor activity in patients with ovarian cancer. Patients with recurrent ovarian carcino­ma frequently develop resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy, at which time treatment options become limited. Here, single-arm phases 1 and 2 trials sought to determine the clinical activity and safety of combination therapy of niraparib plus pembrolizumab in patients with platinum-based chemotherapy–resistant ovarian carcino­ma or those not eligible for retreatment with a platinum-based chemotherapy. Sixty-two patients with ovarian carcino­ma were enrolled in this open-label, single-arm phases 1 and 2 study. Among the 60 evaluable patients, 3 had com­plete responses, 8 had partial responses, and 28 had stable disease.

This positive result led researchers to conclude that niraparib in combination with pembrolizumab is tolerable, with promising antitumor activity for patients with ovarian carcinoma who have limit­ed treatment options regardless of plat­inum status, biomarker status, or prior treatment with bevacizumab. Responses in patients without tumor BRCA muta­tions or non-HRD cancers were higher than expected with either agent as monotherapy. This study could poten­tially have long-lasting impact in that it not only identifies women at high risk of developing ovarian cancer, it could also inform future treatments for these genetic components.

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