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Ovarian Cancer May Mimic Fallopian Tube Formation

A new study suggests that ovarian cancer cells form by hijacking a developmental genetic process normally used to form fallopian tubes//. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Ovarian Cancer Institute discovered that the protein, PAX8, is involved in the development of fallopian tubes and is present in ovarian cancer cells, but not in normal ovarian tissue. The discovery not only provides a new target for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, but also opens new avenues for basic research in ovarian cancer pathology. The research appears in Volume 104, Issue 3 of the journal Gynecologic Oncology.

"Our finding sustains the promise of a molecular genetic understanding of different cancers and emphasizes the importance of describing cancer in the context of normal human development that has gone awry due to genetic and epigenetic alterations,” said Nathan Bowen, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scientist at Georgia Tech and the Ovarian Cancer Institute (OCI).

Using cancerous and non-cancerous tissue straight from the operating room, Bowen and fellow OCI researchers are engaged in investigating the molecular profile of ovarian cancer tissue in order to discover the causes of ovarian cancer, develop a reliable diagnostic blood test and understand the genetic basis of resistance to chemotherapy.

In 2003, a group from Stanford University researching breast cancer discovered that paired box gene 8 is expressed in ovarian cancer tissue, but not in breast cancer. Taking note of the Stanford group’s results, OCI researchers began to investigate the possibility that the gene and its products may be an important biomarker for detecting and researching the causes of ovarian cancer. They began to look for evidence of PAX8, the protein made by paired box gene 8, which was the next step in establishing the gene as a biomarker. Not only did they find PAX8 in the ovarian cancer cells, but they also found it in the
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