RESEARCH UPDATE: January 2016 – June 2016

7 September 2016

Two years on from the launch of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund we are incredibly pleased to report that three review articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals involving the team that you so generously support. It is thanks to your hard work and the funding of research fellows that this research has been carried out and published.

Publishing research

Publishing research reviews is of utmost importance for research education. By sharing knowledge with the cancer research community around the world research teams everywhere are able to develop ideas and build on each other’s successes to change practice and get closer to a cure. It is by changing practice that together we can impact cancer patients now and patients in the future. Thank you so much for your ongoing commitment; we are very proud to acknowledge the Gynaecological Cancer Fund’s support in these publications. Targeted agents and combinations in ovarian cancer: where are we now? was published in April in the Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy. In May, a second article was published by Dr Banerjee and Dr McLachlan, Olaparib for the treatment of epithelial ovarian cancer in the Expert Opinion of Pharmacotherapy. A third article, BRCA somatic mutations and epigenetic BRCA modifications in serous ovarian cancer was published in the Annals of Oncology in March.

BRCA testing

The team has now completed the pilot study of BRCA testing in tumour samples in collaboration with the Genomics Diagnostics Laboratory, Manchester. The pilot study has shown that reproducible and accurate results are achievable in hospital laboratories. Being able to test for BRCA gene abnormalities on site at hospitals could guide patient treatment decisions and is likely to be cheaper for hospitals than other options. It will guide treatment decisions by enabling clinicians to use olaparib, a PARP inhibitor – this is personalised and precision treatment at its most advanced. To progress this excellent research and benefit more patients the next step is to establish if this testing can be rolled out for patients being treated at other hospitals.

Investigating rare cancers

Following the collection of more than 80 samples of endometrial, cervical and ovarian cancers the team has been conducting initial tests to identify specific gene abnormalities in rarer subtypes of these cancers. These results could lead to a wider programme of research that will help us to understand which patients would benefit from a specific targeted therapy. Dr Banerjee has started discussions with pharmaceutical companies to access relevant drugs to test this in a clinical trial. The research is still in early stages but, thanks to funding from the Gynecological Cancer Fund, these initial results could form the foundations of a larger research programme to prove the concept and offer more personalised treatment for patients with rare types of endometrial and ovarian cancer. This is a novel finding and it would be the first trial of its kind.

Research into the treatments, outcomes and care for women over 65 years old

Dr Dumas is analysing the care of more than 300 women over the age of 65 with gynaecological cancers to see what side effects create problems for patients during their treatment and care. The aim of the research is to utilize a score system for doctors to implement in clinics to help identify which patients will have fewer side-effects from treatments and therefore benefit most from therapies. This work will lead to multi-centre clinical studies to improve outcomes and personalise treatment for older women across gynaecological cancers.
Although still at early stages this research could provide the basis required and evidence needed for a wider programme for the benefit of more gynaecological cancer patients across the UK. It would not be possible without your support, thank you.

CORAL

Dr Mclachlan, currently funded by the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, has contributed to CORAL, a multi- centre clinical trial led by Dr Banerjee. This is the first trial of Androgen Receptor targeted therapy in ovarian cancer to be completed. The drug used is abiraterone which is used in prostate cancer and was developed at The Royal Marsden and ICR. The results will be presented by Dr Banerjee at the European Society of Medical Oncology in Copenhagen in October 2016.

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