Targeting gene mutations to treat ovarian cancers
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IMAGE: This is Dr. Tania Moujaber. view more 

Credit: Westmead Institute for Medical Research

New research has shown that ovarian cancer patients with a tumour mutation in the BRAF gene respond exceptionally well to treatment with targeted drugs, known as BRAF inhibitors.

BRAF inhibitors block the activity of mutated BRAF gene. They are currently used to treat patients with melanoma, which often have mutations in the BRAF gene.

The study showed that BRAF inhibitors may be effective at treating a rare type of ovarian cancer, called low-grade serous cancer, which more commonly affects younger women.

PhD student Dr Tania Moujaber from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research examined information from more than 1,000 ovarian cancer patients across Australia, including from the Australian Ovarian Cancer Study, to identify cases of low-grade serous cancer.

Dr Moujaber identified nine women with the BRAF mutation. Four of these patients relapsed soon after regular primary treatment.

“Two of these women went into a clinical trial to test BRAF inhibitors, following our research which identified their BRAF mutations,” Dr Moujaber explained.

“Both have had excellent, long-lasting responses.

“In contrast, the other two women received standard treatment several years before our analysis, and sadly rapidly deteriorated

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