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Ovarian cancer researchers identify biomarker linked to prognosis in aggressive disease type

In lab experiments, the research team used cell lines derived from 40 patient tumour samples to identify that CD151 contributes to the survival of cells of high-grade serous ovarian cancer origin. (Video: UHN)
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(TORONTO, Canada – March 7, 2017) – Ovarian cancer researchers have identified a protein biomarker expressed on the surface of tumour cells in high-grade serous ovarian cancer, the most common and lethal subtype of the disease.

The findings, featured on the cover of the March 7 issue of Cell Reports, show that patients with high levels of the biomarker, CD151, have a poor prognosis, says lead author Mauricio Medrano, a molecular biologist and research associate at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network. 

"Ovarian cancer is many diseases," says Dr. Medrano. "By identifying CD151 and its underlying role in cancer cell survival, we hope to develop a therapy to target it. As a marker for poor prognosis, with further research, there is the potential to develop a clinical screening tool to help personalize cancer treatment for patients."

The research was led by principal investigator Dr. Robert Rottapel, senior scientist and Professor, Departments of Medical Biophysics and Immunology, University of Toronto.​

In lab experiments, the research team used cell lines derived from 40 patient tumour samples to identify that CD151 contributes to the survival of cells of high-grade serous ovarian cancer origin. The team further analysed tissue samples from a cohort of approximately 1,000 patients to establish the correlation of high levels of CD151 to poor prognosis.

"For the scientific community," says Dr. Medrano, "our study provides a lot of new information about other possible targets, not only CD151, that could be important and can provide new ideas for how to target ovarian cancer."

The research was supported by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Canadian Ovarian Cancer Research Consortium's biobank funded by the Terry Fox Research Institute, and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

About Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has achieved an international reputation as a global leader in the fight against cancer and delivering personalized cancer medicine. The Princess Margaret, one of the top five international cancer research centres, is a member of the University Health Network, which also includes Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the Michener Institute for Education; all affiliated with the University of Toronto. For more information, go to www.theprincessmargaret.ca or www.uhn.ca.

Media contact:
Jane Finlayson, Public Affairs
Phone: 416 946 2846
Email:​ jane.finlayson@uhn.ca

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