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The Cancer Genome Atlas completes detailed ovarian cancer analysis
Date:6/29/2011

on signature associated with poor survival lived for a period that was 23 percent shorter than patients whose tumors did not have such a signature. The overall five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 31 percent, which means that 69 percent of patients diagnosed this year will not be alive in 2016, highlighting the urgent need for a better understanding of the disease.

"The new knowledge of the genomic changes in ovarian cancer has revealed that the molecular catalysts of this disease are not limited to small changes affecting individual genes," said NCI Director Harold E. Varmus, M.D. "Also important are large structural changes that occur in these cancer genomes. Cancer researchers can use this comprehensive body of information to better understand the biology of ovarian cancer and improve the diagnosis and treatment of this dreaded disease."

To identify opportunities for targeted treatment, the investigators searched for existing drugs that might inhibit amplified or over-expressed genes that were suggested to play a role in ovarian cancer. The search identified 68 genes that could be targeted by existing Food and Drug Administration-approved or experimental therapeutic compounds. The investigators noted that one type of drug, a PARP (Poly ADP ribose polymerase) inhibitor, might be able to counteract the DNA repair gene observed in half of the ovarian tumors studied. While researchers have known that these drugs could be effective against the disease, this study revealed that 50 percent of tumors might be responsive to drugs that exploit the genetic instability of the tumors and induce the cancer cells to die.

"Like all cancers, ovarian cancer results from genomic derangements," said Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., NHGRI director. "The efforts of TCGA are confirming that the more we learn about genomic changes in tumor cells, the more we will be able to care for the people affected by cancer."

The results of this study
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Contact: NCI Office of Media Relations
NCIPressOfficers@mail.nih.gov
301-496-6641
NIH/National Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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