Samuel C. Mok, PhD

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Samuel C. Mok, PhD

Samuel C. Mok, PhD

About Project

Identification of biomarkers for early cancer detection in women at high-risk
of developing ovarian cancer using emerging EFIRM Liquid Biopsy (eLB) technology


Women with inherited mutations in BRCA1/2 have a dramatically increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Surgery to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries can drastically reduce this risk, but some women delay or decline surgery in order to avoid unwanted menopausal symptoms or because they wish to maintain fertility. These women at high-risk for ovarian cancer undergo regular blood testing for a protein called “CA125” combined with an ultrasound, but this has not been shown to effectively diagnose ovarian cancer at an early stage. Therefore, there is a critical need for a reliable way to detect ovarian cancer at earlier, more treatable stages for these women at increased risk due to inherited mutations. Despite decades of research, previous studies have been unsuccessful in identifying proteins in the blood that can identify early stage ovarian cancer. Here, we propose to use innovative liquid biopsy analysis technologies to look at completely different types of candidate markers to identify effective new methods for early ovarian cancer detection. These markers are small RNA molecules carried in exosomes, which are small vesicles secreted by ovarian cancer cells into the bloodstream even before they metastasize. We believe that our new liquid biopsy screening platform together with the panel of exosomal small RNAs that we identified will allow us to develop a screen test, which can be used for early detection of ovarian cancer in women at high-risk for developing ovarian cancer.

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February 1, 2019