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Target Ovarian Cancer funds life saving research and has committed over £800,000 of funding to date. Research such as this is only possible thanks to the funding we receive from individuals, trusts and legacies. 

Current award recipients

Current award recipients

Innovation in ovarian cancer research award 2016 - Exploring the role of inhibiting IL-6 for potentially treating clear cell ovarian cancer

Professor Iain McNeish at the University of Glasgow has been awarded £180,000 to conduct research over 28 months. Professor McNeish and team will look at developing novel treatments for ovarian clear cell carcinoma, a rare subtype of ovarian cancer which makes up four per cent of cases. 

Recent research shows that a molecule called interleukin-­6 (IL-­6) may be critical to the development of ovarian clear cell carcinoma. In this project, the Glasgow-based team will evaluate the effectiveness of drugs that block IL-6 as potential treatments for ovarian clear cell carcinoma in the lab, with a view to generating robust data that will show that a clinical trial is necessary.

This project is innovative in that it proposes to repurpose existing drugs already in hospital pharmacies across the UK for other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, rather than developing new ones. In the longer term, researchers hope that anti-IL6 therapy could become a standard treatment for people who are diagnosed with ovarian clear cell carcinoma.

Supportive and palliative care research award 2016 - assessing the potential benefits of a specialised liquid diet for patients with bowel obstruction

Dr Agnieszka Michael at the University of Surrey has been awarded £65,000 for research spanning 36 months, to investigate a key way to support women with advanced ovarian cancer. If the disease progresses and women are receiving palliative care only, further complications can occur, and a key issue affecting some women’s quality of life is an inoperable bowel blockage. This means they can no longer eat and are only able to swallow small amounts of fluid and so they cannot get the nutrients they need from food. 

Dr Agnieszka Michael and team propose an innovative way to dramatically improve women’s quality of life. They will look at the effects of elemental diet, a liquid nutrition drink that contains an elemental protein source known as amino acids. These nutrients can be absorbed in the top part of the bowel, before they reach any blockage. Their research will investigate whether these drinks can have a real effect on women who may be experiencing an inoperable blockage in their bowel.

Targeting microtubules for the treatment of ovarian cancer

We have awarded Dr Ahmed Ashour Ahmed at the University of Oxford £179,997 to facilitate the development of potential new drugs for ovarian cancer. Overcoming chemotherapy resistance is one of the key strategic aims of Target Ovarian Cancer’s research awards. While many women initially respond well to chemotherapy, most will go on to develop chemotherapy resistant tumours.

Professor Ahmed has identified proteins within ovarian cancer cells which allow them to become resistant to the commonly used chemotherapy Paclitaxel. He aims to develop inhibitors of these proteins which, if successful, could go on to be developed into new drugs for ovarian cancer.

Identification of FEN1 as a new drug target in ovarian cancer

We have awarded Dr Srinivasan Madhusudan at the University of Nottingham £120,000 to develop personalised medicine for ovarian cancer. In collaboration with chemists from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, Dr Madhusudan aims to develop novel inhibitors of a protein called FEN1.

The team have already discovered that there is more FEN1 in ovarian cancer cells and this is associated with a worse outcome for a person with ovarian cancer. If successful this important work will pave the way for new drugs which target FEN1 and could be especially active in BRCA-related cancers and chemotherapy resistance cancers.

Circulating tumour DNA as a specific diagnostic biomarker for ovarian cancer

Dr Elizabeth Moore is the first recipient of the prestigious Target Ovarian Cancer / Medical Research Council joint Clinical Research Training Fellowship, a programme dedicated to training the researchers of the future. We have awarded Dr Elizabeth Moore at the University of Cambridge £100,000 to investigate novel methods for the earlier and more precise detection of ovarian cancer. 

Concluded projects

Assessing the acceptability and feasibility of systematic genetic testing for women with epithelial ovarian cancer

We awarded Dr Marc Tischkowitz at the University of Cambridge £175,299 to undertake a landmark clinical study to ensure women receive the appropriate genetic counselling both before and after genetic testing for BRCA gene mutations. Over 200 women took part in The Genetic Testing in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (GTEOC) study, which aimed to see if a more streamlined model of genetic counselling with BRCA testing is cost effective, feasible and acceptable to women.

Testing women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer for gene mutations allows other family members to seek vital help and information if they find out they have a familial risk. However it is essential that women are supported with qualified genetic counselling throughout the process, especially as testing becomes more widespread and routine.

The study has now concluded, with findings published in the Journal of Medical Genetics, and is already being rolled out to benefit women across East Anglia. 


Does palliative chemotherapy improve symptoms in women with recurrent ovarian cancer? Measuring subjective improvement as well as objective response to estimate the benefit of palliative chemotherapy in women with platinum resistant or refractory ovarian cancer

Dr Anne Lanceley of University College London was awarded £25,000 through our supportive and palliative research award. This funding supported the UK arm of the worldwide study to assess whether the symptoms benefit from chemotherapy can be assessed to allow women to make informed choices about continuing with further rounds of chemotherapy.

Without Target Ovarian Cancer funding women in the UK could not have participated in this crucial clinical study. Over 100 women from 23 different counties took part. 

Our other research work

  • Our Pathfinder Study is the UK’s most comprehensive research study into the experiences of people living or working with ovarian cancer
  • We investigated issues surrounding earlier diagnosis and delays to seeking treatment through a PhD studentship at University College London, jointly funded with Cancer Research UK.

Read more

Target Ovarian Cancer does not receive any state funding. This research is only made possible through donations and legacies. If you would like to contribute to these research projects and improve treatments for women with ovarian cancer, please visit our donate page.