Sara Corvigno, MD, PhD; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Project Title: Early detection of ovarian cancer via metabolic analysis of circulating platelets.
Most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at a late stage, when the malignancy has spread enough that surgeons and clinicians cannot completely eradicate it. These women unfortunately have a shorter survival duration. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges for researchers is to find effective tools for the early detection of this disease. Such an approach would ideally identify disease in asymptomatic women and be readily repeatable periodically; therefore, it should be a non-invasive approach to allow high compliance.
Platelet [a type of blood cell] numbers increase during cancer development; platelets participate in the tumor metastatic process, undergoing well-characterized physical changes. They can be easily isolated from as little as 2 mL of blood, and their metabolite abundance [a marker of their activity] can be easily and quickly detected. Dr. Corvigno’s project aims at characterizing platelets from patients with ovarian cancer using two 2 techniques: nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. The initial background data suggests that they can successfully distinguish the platelets of cancer patients from the platelets of healthy individuals. Dr. Corvigno’s research group has a long-standing interest in platelet biology, and they utilize strong collaborations with experts in the supporting techniques to provide a high likelihood of success for this project. The results of their project are expected to improve the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer, finally increasing the survival duration of women with this malignancy.