With incidence of ovarian cancer presentation set to rise by 15% in the next 16 years1, if there are no significant developments in the treatment of this disease in its advanced stage – the search continues for new biomarkers, better outcomes and cures for this deadly disease.
Ovarian cancer is the UK’s fourth most common type of cancer, with a staggering 7,300 new cases presenting themselves every year2. Ovarian cancer’s vague presentation of symptoms is one of the reasons why it presents such a big challenge to researchers. As a result of this, and the current lack of treatments available in the UK for the advanced disease - ovarian cancer continues to kill nearly 4,100 women a year in the UK3, most of whom are diagnosed at a late stage.
The importance of early detection of ovarian cancer
Most women are diagnosed once ovarian cancer has already spread which makes treatment more challenging. The current five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 46 per cent. If diagnosed at the earliest stage, up to 90 per cent of women would survive five years or more4.
Research has shown that just 4% of women in the UK are very confident about recognising a symptom of ovarian cancer5
Does epigenetics hold the answer?
Epigenetics involves chemical changes to the DNA and associated proteins that can lead to genes being turned on or off. In some cases, this can go wrong and lead to disease. Through the CEAT project, Swansea University will work closely with CEAT partners to develop drugs that can control epigenetic signals; these epigenetic drugs can be targeted specifically towards ovarian cancer cells where epigenetic changes have occurred.
Creating a new route with CEAT
The Cluster for Epigenomic and Antibody Drug Conjugate Therapeutics (CEAT) project has recently been awarded £1.2m by the European Regional Development Fund via the Welsh Government. The project provides an important step in tackling the ovarian cancer treatment designed to target ovarian cancer cells specifically, sparing the surrounding tissues and limiting the harsh side-effects often associated with chemotherapy.
Led by Swansea University, in conjunction with Porvair Sciences and four additional industry partners, a £2.6m project will use the very latest Chromatrap® bead-free Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) technology. Porvair Sciences will develop new epigenomic profiling approaches that will deliver vital advances in cutting-edge drug development and patient profiling.