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Liquid Biopsy using Tumor Specific Extracellular Vesicles for the Early Detection of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer
Developing a non-invasive, precise blood test (“liquid biopsy”) that can detect ovarian cancer early is the holy grail!
Our studies examine extracellular vesicles or EVs, which are thin-walled sacs filled with fluid found in our blood and other bodily fluids. These sacs are 1000-times smaller than the width of an average human hair! All types of cells in our body release EVs, but cancer cells discharge more into our blood.
We have developed tools to exploit these EVs as “biomarkers” to detect the early presence of ovarian cancer, specifically the type most difficult to treat referred to as high grade serous. These types of tumors originate in the fallopian tubes and when they disperse throughout a woman’s body, lead to advanced disease at the time of detection.
Our goal is to detect tumor cells while confined to the fallopian tubes and when preventative surgery, such as a salpingectomy which is the surgical removal of one or both of a woman’s fallopian tubes, can be curative. Using our novel molecular tools, we can capture, count, and analyze specific EVs in the blood of asymptomatic women who don’t know they have the earliest stage of ovarian cancer. Despite being small, it turns out these circulating EVs are mighty early warning detectors.
When our research proves successful, Tina will have her wish! Women will finally have a tool to find ovarian cancer early, way before any symptoms appear. And they will have a 90% chance of being cured!
Researcher Roundtable #2, featuring Andrew K. Godwin, PhD and Steven Soper, PhD of The University of Kansas. Moderated by Tina’s Wish Leadership Council Member Laureen Ryan of Alvarez & Marsal.
December 7, 2023