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Developing a misfolded p53 aggregation assay to interrogate disease specific exosomes captured using a microfluidic device for the early detection of epithelial ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a silent killer that strikes with few symptoms. However, when detected before the cancer has time to spread, the prognosis for the patient is excellent. Developing non-invasive and highly specific blood-based tests, i.e., “liquid biopsies” for pre-symptomatic screening and early detection of ovarian cancer is, therefore, the holy grail. We will focus on vesicles (membrane-bound sacs) found circulating in blood at high concentrations (>1 billion particles in a teaspoon of blood) that are a 1000-times smaller than the width of an average human hair. These nanosized vesicles, referred to as exosomes, are released by all types of cells in the body, both healthy and tumor cells: in the disease state the number of exosomes in blood are greatly elevated. We will exploit these exosomes as robust indicators or “biomarkers” to detect the early presence of the deadliest forms of ovarian cancer. We have developed a novel microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip”, which can specifically capture and analyze ovarian exosomes that accumulate in bodily fluids of women at increased risk. We have found that, although small, these mighty vesicles are chocked full of a variety of biomarkers which can be early indicators for the presence of cancer (high sensitivity) and with great certainty of the type of cancer (high specificity). The proposed research will focus on measuring specific elements of the molecular cargo of ovarian cancer-associated exosomes in blood. These studies will lead to development of innovative molecular tools to better detect ovarian cancer at earlier stages when therapies are curative.
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.