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Posted by Dr Simon Newman, Head of Research on Thursday 15 October 2015

I have been given the difficult task of summing up all the amazing work our Target Ovarian Cancer funded scientists have been undertaking in just one short blog. The flip side is - having committed nearly £600,000 to research – it’s great news we already have so much impact to talk about, so here goes.

Without clinical trials science cannot be translated into patient benefit and, historically, few women living with ovarian cancer got access to trials. We are therefore proud to have funded two clinical trials (Symptoms Benefit and GTEOC), which were responsible for over 25 per cent of the increase in participation in ovarian cancer clinical trials in 2013-2014 compared to 2012-2013.

Both these trials are now closed to recruitment and data analysis is ongoing. Findings from the GTEOC trial – a clinical study to ensure women receive the appropriate genetic counselling both before and after genetic testing for BRCA gene mutations - is already beginning to be implemented into clinic practice in the East of England.

International trial

The Symptoms Benefit trial was an international trial, and I am very pleased to boast the Target Ovarian Cancer funded UK-arm was the lead recruiter across the globe, an amazing achievement by the principal investigator, Anne Lanceley, and her team at UCL. This trial was assessing how best to measure symptoms benefit of chemotherapy for advanced disease to allow patients to make more informed decisions about continuing treatment. When we have more results I will dedicate a whole blog to this important topic.

Professor Ahmed Ahmed and his team at the University of Oxford are looking for potential new drugs to overcome resistance to chemotherapy. Progress has been rapid and we have extended our involvement in this vital work for another 10 months and the project is already exceeding its goals.

At Nottingham University Professor Srinivasan Madhusudan is also ahead of schedule in testing new possible drugs in the lab to target ovarian cancers with BRCA mutations and those that behave as if they have BRCA mutations. The latter get the very literal name ‘BRCA-like tumours’ or - worse still - the made up word ‘BRCAness’ to describe them. For these projects to take their work from bench to bedside/concept to clinic significant further investment will be required.

Medical Research Council

Finally, having made great progress so far, work on the ‘Circulating tumour DNA as a specific diagnostic biomarker for ovarian cancer’ project in Cambridge is paused whilst our prestigious joint Medical Research Council/Target Ovarian Cancer funded fellow is on maternity leave and I wish her all the best.

If all that excitement was not enough our next unique UK-wide grants programme is just about to close. This funding round features our new ‘Innovation in ovarian cancer research award’ and continues our support for supportive and palliative care which many major funders neglect. This funding is not restricted to a single institute-based research centre and is available to all researchers across the UK.

To ensure we fund only the best possible research funding decisions are made by our esteemed independent Scientific Advisory Board, meaningful lay review by our very own Research Advocates and peer review by world experts. We should know the outcomes from this by late spring 2016, so you can expect another not so short blog from me then.

Well that's all folks! If you still want to know anything more please just drop me an email at snewman@targetovariancancer.org.uk

simon-blogDr Simon Newman, Head of Research

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