Ovarian cancer research

By the University of Sydney
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Ovarian cancer research

In 2015, Robin Reyden was given just weeks to live. Ovarian cancer had spread throughout her body and, in her words, had grown around her abdomen like a passionfruit vine. Surgery and chemo had failed. Robin was preparing for the worst.

 

You could say it is a miracle that Robin is alive today to tell her story. But the miracle was delivered by a pioneering approach to cancer therapy, supported by our donors.

 

By making a $10 donation today, you can help more people like Robin by ensuring our researchers continue their ground-breaking work.

 

Professor Anna DeFazio’s donor-funded ovarian cancer research was able to match Robyn with an experimental drug trial based on the molecular features in her tumour.

 

“I didn’t have long to live,” Robin says. “Whatever they were offering me, I thought it was a very good idea.”

 

The new treatment approach drew on radical advances in molecular biology. One question in particular was key: if a woman’s ovarian cancer is caused by a gene mutation that also occurs in another cancer type, would an existing treatment work for ovarian cancer?

 

In Robin’s case, her cancer was driven by a mutation in the BRAF gene, which is also active in many melanomas. Would a current melanoma drug work for her? Incredibly, the cancer began melting away almost immediately with only minor side effects. Professor deFazio was utterly thrilled, but she’s quick to point out that this is not a cure for all ovarian cancer. 

 

The result demonstrates a mechanism with amazing promise, that doctors may one day be able to quickly identify the active mutated gene in an ovarian cancer and treat it with a precisely targeted drug.

 

 “It’s incredible that we’re in a place where we can even contemplate something like that,” says Professor DeFazio.

 

Professor DeFazio’s work is transformative, but one of the greatest obstacles to progress is a lack of resources. This is where you can help.

 

One hundred percent of what you give will go to the research that could make you part of something wonderful. 

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