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Multimodal, plasma-based biomarkers for ovarian cancer detection
An adnexal mass is any abnormal growth in the tissue near the uterus, and can include benign or malignant growths. In addition to ovarian cancer, other examples include ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancies, or tumors related to endometriosis. It is estimated that annually 200,000 women in the United States undergo surgery for an adnexal mass, yet only 16,000 women a year are ultimately diagnosed with ovarian cancer (OC).
Adnexal masses pose a significant challenge for gynecologists because the differential diagnosis is broad, ranging from benign tumors that only require surveillance to malignant diseases that require surgical intervention. Currently, there are no non-surgical technologies that can reliably differentiate benign adnexal masses from OC. Although approximately 90% of adnexal masses are benign, only surgery can conclusively rule out malignancy. To reduce the number of diagnostic surgeries performed to evaluate clinically asymptomatic adnexal masses, we propose to identify and evaluate blood-based biomarkers that can identify borderline and invasive OC.
We will use a blood-based approach, leveraging two (2) key technologies, to identify, evaluate, and validate biomarkers that can predict OC. We will first use a platform to identify differences in circulating metabolites, products formed during intracellular chemical reactions, in patients with benign adnexal masses and those with OC. The second key technology allows us to identify DNA chemical modifications and ask if they differ between patients with benign adnexal masses versus OC. We will combine the most differentially expressed metabolite- and genetic biomarkers and assess their combined or separate ability to detect OC. We predict that a combination of several markers will prove to be both reliable and accurate. This study will lay the foundation for building new diagnostic clinical assays for OC that can provide practical alternatives to surgical evaluation.
December 7, 2023