Qatar researchers find potential new ovarian cancer treatment

January 23, 2012


Tabrizi (R) and Malek

A medical college in Qatar said that its researchers have made a possible breakthrough in the way ovarian cancer is treated.

Using the latest techniques and taking a new approach involving studying a smaller sample and deeper analysis of the genetic abnormalities of the metastasized lesions, the researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) found clear differences between the genetic expression of the primary ovarian cancer and the metastasized lesions.

Dr Jeremie Arash Rafii Tabrizi, Assistant Professor of Genetic Medicine Obstetrics and Gynaecology

The finding indicates that when treating ovarian cancer with modern medication, consideration needs to be given to how metastasized lesions respond and that may include tailoring the treatment based on combined biology of the primary ovarian cancer and metastatic lesions, the college said.

Dr Jeremie Arash Rafii Tabrizi, Assistant Professor of Genetic Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Dr Joel Malek, Director of the Genomics Laboratory and Instructor in Genetic Medicine, have been working closely with institutions in France, Singapore, Canada and the US to produce the report.

The study has been published in PLoS ONE, the peer reviewed journal produced by the Public Library of Science.

“Our findings are significant and important because most patients are diagnosed at the advanced stage of the disease,” Dr Rafii said.

“This means there are metastasized lesions present in the abdomen and by studying patients whose primary ovarian cancer is very similar, we have shown that the metastasized lesions, often the most dangerous part of the disease, are different. This means they may respond differently, possibly better, to a different cancer drug,” he said.

Past research has focused on the primary cancer, often looking at the genomics of hundreds of tumours.

Metastasis biology

“Our approach is different because we decided to focus our research on the metastasis biology rather than only on the primary tumour,” he said.

According to Dr Rafii the next step is to produce a larger study to confirm these findings and also to study how different the metastatic lesions are within a single patient. This could open the door to new therapeutic approaches that tailors the treatment to the biology of the metastatic lesions.

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common malignant cancer in women and the leading cause of death from gynaecological cancer in the world.

The poor overall survival rate of 20 to 30 per cent at five years is due to the large tumour burden with extensive metastatic lesions of the peritoneal cavity.

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of the abdomen and becomes metastasized. The aggressive form of secondary cancer is often what causes death.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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