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New scientific model tracks form of ovarian cancer to origins in fallopian tube
Date:4/18/2011

difficult to treat. The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with HGSOC each year, and 14,000 die of it. Worldwide, the incidence approaches 200,000 women with 115,000 deaths each year.

In work published last year, Dana-Farber researchers created a laboratory model for studying the lining of the fallopian tubes. Using tissue from women who had had their fallopian tubes removed for reasons unrelated to cancer, the researchers established a model that mirrors the structure and function of normal fallopian tube tissue in the body.

For the new study, researchers removed secretory cells from the fallopian tube tissue model and "immortalized" them - altered the cells' genetic programming so they could divide indefinitely, much as cancer cells do. As the Cancer Genome Atlas Project has shown, ovarian cancers don't have a consistent pattern of gene mutations (other than in the p53 tumor suppressor gene). What they have, instead, are broad irregularities in the number of copies of key genes - too many, too few, or none at all. The gene most commonly missing from ovarian cancer cells is hRb, the one most often overduplicated is c-Myc. The Dana-Farber researchers made the immortalized cells mimic those abnormalities by shutting down hRb and sending c-Myc into overdrive.

Like true tumor cells, these "artificial" cancer cells proliferated rapidly and were able to leave their home tissue and grow elsewhere. When implanted in laboratory animals, they also gave rise to tumors that were structurally, behaviorally, and genomically similar to human HGSOC.

"The model allows us to introduce other genetic abnormalities into these cells to see the effect on tumor growth and development," says Drapkin, who is also an assistant professof of pathology at Harvard Medical School. "Such studies will help us identify different types of high-grade serous ovarian cancer, as well as possibly discover biomarkers
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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