Ovarian Cancer Therapy Moving Toward Personalized Medicine

October 2012, Vol 3, No 7 - Value Propositions


The recent discovery of 3 subtypes of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will soon enable oncologists to determine which of their patients with HGSOC—the most common type of ovarian cancer—are most likely to benefit from a certain class of drugs.

HGSOC cells have a high level of genomic “instability,” meaning that their nuclei have large or extra chromosomes or are missing chromosomes or fragments of chromosomes, which leads to a process known as loss of heterozygosity (LOH). “Patients with the greatest burden of LOH had the longest progression-free survival….This is the group that stands to derive the most from certain classes of drugs,” said lead researcher Zhigang C. Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, and Assistant Professor, Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA.

“Our findings suggest that, for the most part, we can determine which patients have the best chance of responding to specific categories of drugs for high-grade serous ovarian cancer,” said coinvestigator Ursula A. Matulonis, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Director of Medical Gynecologic Oncology, Depart­ment of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber. “For this disease, one of the most difficult to treat of all gynecologic cancers, the study is an important step forward.” Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Newsroom; September 19, 2012