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Investigators identify predictive biomarkers of ovarian cancer response in the blood

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An investigation published recently in Clinical Cancer Research reports that a blood test allowing doctors to predict which ovarian cancer patients will respond to blood vessel-targeting agents is a step closer.

With little increase in ovarian cancer survival rates seen in recent decades, scientists are seeking to develop new treatment strategies that may improve the standard approach of surgery and chemotherapy. Bevacizumab has previously demonstrated modest survival improvements in ovarian cancer patients and thus investigation to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from this additional treatment has been ongoing.

In this particular investigation, researchers from both The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust (UK) studied blood samples from patients enrolled in an international bevacizumab trial. Individuals in the trial were stratified to receive chemotherapy treatment alone or chemotherapy plus the blood vessel-targeting drug.

Discussing the work, study leader Gordon Jayson (The University of Manchester) commented: “We are keen to identify predictive biomarkers – measures that can indicate how well a patient will respond to treatment – so we can better target these drugs to patients most likely to benefit. We investigated levels of a range of proteins in patients’ pre-treatment blood samples to see if any were associated with improved survival.”

The results of the investigation highlighted a combination of two proteins that are involved in blood vessel formation, Ang1 and Tie2, which appeared to predict patient response. Those with high levels of Ang1 and low levels of Tie2 in their blood were most likely to benefit from additional therapy with bevacizumab. Furthermore, it was established that patients with high levels of both proteins did not benefit from bevacizumab therapy.

“We will now look to further explore the potential of using a blood test to personalize treatment for ovarian cancer patients. Moving towards a more individualised treatment plan specific for each patient and their particular tumour is key to improving outcomes for patients while sparing those unlikely to benefit from potential side effects of therapy,” commented Caroline Dive, co-author of the study based at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute.

Further validations of these results could see a test that may help personalize ovarian cancer therapy and spare unnecessary treatments in use within the next few years.

Source: The University of Manchester press release

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