Stopping Cancer Early – The Best Possible Investment

New developments shape direction of Canary ovarian research program

In an effort to further the understanding of early-stage ovarian cancer and find potential ways to detect and treat it, Canary is collaborating with the BRCA Foundation on a new ovarian cancer initiative.

This initiative is being lead by Ronny Drapkin, MD, PhD, Director of the Penn Ovarian Research Center and Director of Gynecological Cancer Research at the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania, and Chuck Drescher, MD, a gynecological oncologist and research scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Director of Gynecological Research at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

Why now?

While there have been advances in the treatment of ovarian cancer, the same can’t be said for the development of accurate methods for detecting ovarian cancer early. As a result, most cases are diagnosed once the disease has spread beyond the ovaries to other organs.

“The most common clinical tools for diagnosing ovarian cancer, CA-125 and TV sonography, are based on technologies that are more than 25 years old,” Drescher says. “We must do better.”

Fortunately, recent scientific developments are reorienting research toward early detection by shedding light not only on how ovarian cancer forms in the body, but where it forms. It is now known, for example, that a substantial number of cases traditionally referred to as ovarian cancer don’t originate in the ovaries at all. They begin in the fallopian tubes, the structure immediately adjacent to the ovary.

“There’s been tremendous progress in our understanding of ovarian cancer in the last 5 to 10 years, and it is that progress that is serving as the basis for this new Canary initiative,” Drapkin says.

Watch the video below to learn more about these new developments in ovarian cancer.

About the initiative

“Our plan is to put together a multi-disciplinary team of 20 to 30 preeminent ovarian cancer research scientists,” explains Drescher, “and provide financial resources and access to the critical specimens, samples and patients that are necessary to do the types of research we are planning.”

In order to accomplish this, Drescher, Drapkin and other co-leaders are putting together an advisory committee that will meet for the first time this fall. The group has several goals it hopes to achieve within the next year.

The first is to identify four or five clinical centers nationwide that are ready to participate in the program. These centers will be selected based on their expertise in ovarian early detection research, their ability to reach out to patients at high risk, and their ability to contribute to the development of next generation early detection tests.

Another goal includes establishing a “bio bank” that will include tissue, blood and other samples from women with very rare, very early forms of ovarian cancer that could be used in future studies.

“It is our vision to create a self-sustaining network of talented clinicians and researchers with access to critical clinical samples and patients and the infrastructure to do collaborative research,” Drescher says. “We believe it is the best path forward to getting new tests to women and saving lives from ovarian cancer.”