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Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer using serum microRNA signatures
Too many patients with ovarian cancer – over 70% – are diagnosed at an advanced stage, once the tumor has metastasized. Treatment is much less effective at this point, which is why the disease has such a high mortality rate. Earlier detection has been difficult because the cancer is deep within the pelvis and symptoms do not usually manifest early. A diagnostic method that could detect the disease at an earlier stage is thus critical.
Dr. Chowdhury’s lab found that examining the profile of microRNAs – very small molecules present in a patient’s blood – can yield a “biochemical signature” that can distinguish early ovarian cancers from benign or borderline tumors. These molecules are currently being investigated as predictive markers for a number of other cancers as well.