BC’s unique provincial cancer care system – with coordinated diagnosis, treatment and outcome tracking – has made it possible for our province to be a leader in the evolution of improved treatments for a number of different cancers. However, there have been no significant breakthroughs in ovarian cancer treatment for more than a decade. OvCaRe was created by a group of clinicians and scientists with the explicit goal of improving ovarian cancer outcomes by freely sharing data and promoting collaborations within the group and with outside researchers interested in ovarian cancer. OvCaRe has three major goals: to develop diagnostic tests for the most promising tumour markers and offer these tests province wide; to identify novel therapies in laboratories and translate these to the clinic; and to explore markers, diagnostics and potential therapies for ovarian cancers that are unresponsive to current therapies.
OvCaRe was created by a group of clinicians and scientists across multiple health care authorities and research institutions with the common goal of improving ovarian cancer patient outcomes by sharing data and promoting collaborations within the group and with outside researchers. OvCaRe spans the breadth of basic to clinical sciences by bringing scientific discoveries to patient populations; allowing true bench-to-bedside research and improved patient outcomes.
OvCaRe is focusing on three primary goals:
- Developing and testing methods for early detection of ovarian cancer - While early detection of ovarian cancer is an obvious strategy for improving outcomes for ovarian cancer patients, it has proven difficult to achieve. OvCaRe is working with a team of researchers that is currently using a multi-platform approach (gene expression, proteomics, targeted gene sequencing, DNA methylation, and immunoassay development) to identify serum markers for early ovarian cancer detection. The goal is to develop novel diagnostic tests for the most promising tumour markers and offer these tests province wide.
- Identifying novel therapies in laboratories and translating them to patient care - The standard approach for ovarian cancer treatment is chemotherapy, a treatment with limited success. OvCaRe asserts that the development of improved therapies depends on the identification of novel therapeutic targets. The OvCaRe team is currently testing the efficacy of a specific enzyme to successfully target the defect in DNA double strand repair associated with cancer-predisposing mutations in the BRCA1 gene or in the BRCA2 gene.
- Exploring potential therapies for ovarian cancers that are unresponsive to current therapies - Ovarian clear cell carcinoma (CCC), a rare subtype of ovarian cancer, does not show the high response rate to chemotherapy seen in most patients with ovarian cancer. Through its collaboration with the Cheryl Brown Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Unit Registry, OvCaRe is aiming to develop alternative patient therapies and more specific and effective treatments for these cancers.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in women and the leading cause of death from gynecological malignancy. Although most ovarian cancers respond to chemotherapy, they almost inevitably recur. Consequently, the life expectancy for women with ovarian cancer is, on average, less than three years after diagnosis.