University of Sydney Given $3.75M Grant to Study Personalized Ovarian Cancer Treatments

University of Sydney Given  $3.75M Grant to Study Personalized Ovarian Cancer Treatments

The Australian Cancer Council NSW has awarded its annual $3.75 million Translational Program Grant to a University of Sydney research team to explore better ways to personalize ovarian cancer treatments.

For the next five years, investigators led by professor Anna deFazio, PhD, the university’s Sydney West Chair in Translational Cancer Research, will work to develop a mechanism through which the molecular composition of patient tumors can be evaluated comprehensively.

The idea is that, should standard therapies fail, patients can be matched with a clinical study based on their particular cancer’s molecular profile. Treatments based on a patient’s specific disease subtype improves the likelihood of success.

“Currently, only around 45 percent of ovarian cancer patients will survive for five years,” deFazio said in a press release. She also is co-director of the Centre for Cancer Research at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

“Unlike many other cancers, these survival odds have only slightly improved in the last two decades,” she said. “One of the main reasons for this is that each ovarian cancer differs significantly in its genetic and molecular makeup, which results in widely varied treatment outcomes.

“Encouragingly, the last few years have seen a rapid expansion in the number and variety of targeted cancer treatment options.”

To better understand ovarian cancer subsets and how each type reacts to certain therapies, scientists will study the molecular profile of more than 300 ovarian cancer patients in the Australian state of New South Wales. In addition, researchers will examine ways to more clearly and easily communicate complicated molecular test results to treating clinicians.

Using patient samples, the team also will print 3D models of tumors for treatment tests and early phase clinical trial design.

“We will work to provide the missing link in this treatment path, generating the data and processes to match patients with the ideal treatment for their cancer type,” deFazio said.

In addition to the University of Sydney, the research team will include investigators from several Australia-based medical and research centers, as well as the National Cancer Institute in the U.S.

“We only award our Translational Program Grant to cancer research that will rapidly translate research discoveries into clinical practice and policy,” said Karen Canfell, Cancer Council NSW director of research.

Cancer Council NSW is Australia’s leading nonprofit cancer organization. Its five-year grants support multidisciplinary approaches to cancer research.