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Reproductive Cancer

Co-Led by Professor Martin Oehler and Dr Carmela Ricciardelli

Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease and the leading cause of death from gynaecological malignancies. It affects approximately 1 in 90 women in Australia and over 70% of patients present with advanced disease. Despite improvements in surgery and new developments in chemotherapy, ovarian cancer mortality rates have not changed dramatically over the last decade. Significant improvement in ovarian cancer survival will require the development of ovarian cancer biomarkers for early detection and more effective molecularly targeted therapeutics.

The Reproductive Cancer group seeks to understand the mechanisms involved in ovarian cancer spread, resistance to chemotherapy and the identification of novel biomarkers for detection.

Recently the group continued to uncover the role of the annexin A2 in cancer progression, finding that interacting proteins annexin A2 and S100A10 are independent predictors of serous ovarian cancer outcome. Annexin A2 and S100A10 are novel prognostic biomarkers that can be utilised to aid patient management, and could offer opportunities for new molecular targeted therapies to improve outcome. We identified that the cytoskeletal protein, keratin 5, is linked to chemotherapy resistance and progression. Developing strategies to target keratin 5 may prevent recurrence and chemotherapy resistance in serous ovarian cancer.

Currently we are determining whether protein biomarkers and autoantibodies recently identified in plasma can be used as a diagnostic test for serous ovarian cancer in independent cohorts. We will also access whether hyaluronan inhibitors are effective at reversing chemo-resistance using in vivo models of ovarian cancer.

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