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Identifying novel precursor biomarkers of ovarian cancer

By Dr Janet Pitman

Ovarian cancer (OC) is the most lethal gynaecological cancer in New Zealand and world-wide.

Dr Janet Pitman, Victoria University of Wellington

Despite an improvement in our understanding of OC causes, survival rates have remained consistently low due to the lack of symptoms shown in OC. The lack of ovarian tissue biopsies from symptomless women have hampered research on early stage detection.

Researchers have access to a unique murine knock-out model that spontaneously develops ovarian cancer similar to that of human ovarian cancer. As the ovarian cellular transformations that led to distinct tumour phenotypes are systematic, this model is ideal for providing proof that circulating biomarkers of precursors of OC may be detected. This research will examine the population of coding and non-coding RNAs in mice and humans at the onset of OC. This information will then be used to provide proof that nucleic biomarkers present in the circulatory system can detect early signs of ovarian cancer.