RESEARCH into ovarian cancer has received a major boost, with Jewish medical research organisation AUSiMED working together with Australian Friends of Rambam to support an important Australia–Israel ovarian cancer research collaboration.
The joint project – which sees the cooperation of Associate Professor Ron Firestein from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and Dr Ruth Perets from Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa – focuses on developing a new therapy to treat women diagnosed at late stages of ovarian cancer.
Both experts outlined their work in a recent webinar, co-hosted by AUSiMED and Australian Friends of Rambam. Statistics show that each day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the disease.
Perets has shown that removing a protein called PAX8 from ovarian cancer cells leads to cancer cell death. “This is an exciting finding because it means that PAX8 could be a plausible target for ovarian cancer therapy,” she said.
Perets and Firestein are combining their expertise to discover which proteins regulate the expression of PAX8 in ovarian cancer and in normal cells. They are then planning to test the potential of the identified regulatory proteins as targets for a new ovarian cancer therapy.
The project includes a 12-month fellowship in Australia for a gynaecologist from Rambam Health Care Campus.
Antony Cohen, chair of AUSiMED, said the facts about ovarian cancer are sobering. Women with BRCA gene mutations are at higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, he explained. Ovarian cancer has a higher mortality rate than breast cancer because 70 per cent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the late stages of the disease. Only 25 per cent of these women survive beyond five years.
He added, “These statistics highlight the urgent need for innovative research to discover more effective treatments to help women … survive their diagnosis long term.”
Donate to the Knock Out Ovarian Cancer Appeal at charidy.com/ausimed. AUSiMED is conducting a giving day for the appeal on March 17.