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Ovarian Cancer Omics Consortium Receives $500K DoD Grant for Early Detection Biomarker Discovery

NEW YORK – Researchers from Inova, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, and MD Anderson Cancer Center have partnered with the Department of Defense to form an ovarian cancer consortium focused on the discovery of biomarkers for early detection of the disease.

The initiative, known as the DoD and SPORE Ovarian Cancer Omics Consortium, is part of the National Cancer Institute's Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) initiative. It has received a $544,360 grant from the DoD for the first phase of its work, which will focus on setting up the infrastructure and teams to enable its work.

The Consortium will be comprised of researchers from the DoD's Gynecologic Cancer Center of Excellence (GYN-COE) and Women's Health Integrated Research Center at Inova; Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center; and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Using recent omics discoveries about the origins of ovarian cancers, the researchers are aiming to gather biospecimens, and discover and validate biomarkers to inform early detection and screening for serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma (STIC) and ovarian cancer. STIC lesions are precursors of the majority of ovarian cancers. They take about seven years to develop but are rarely found before they develop into cancer.

"Recent research has implicated the fallopian tubes as the source of many ovarian cancers. Cells toward the end of the fallopian tube take on malignant features, then drop these mutated cells on the surface of the ovary and within the abdominal cavity, where they have the opportunity to develop into aggressive and hard-to-detect cancers," Roswell Park Deputy Director Kunle Odunsi, the consortium's principal investigator, said in a statement.

"We're asking the question, 'Can we identify STIC lesions long before they become cancer as a form of early detection, similar to a PAP smear?'" Odunsi added. "There's a window of opportunity where, if we can identify STICs, we can potentially prevent ovarian cancer, and that's the challenge these accomplished teams are coming together to tackle."

Odunsi also noted that the research will take several years, and will rely on the participation and biospecimens of hundreds of people.