Researcher TAKE OVAR blog
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Posted by Target Ovarian Cancer on Tuesday 13 November 2018

Target Ovarian Cancer's new project represents a new frontier in ovarian cancer research. We know that the immune system could play a part in slowing the growth of ovarian cancer that has spread. Now Target Ovarian Cancer is funding new research that seeks to unlock the power of the immune system in treating the disease.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to scientists working on immunotherapy approaches in cancer treatment. The scientists who won the Nobel Prize were working on two continents to propel forward the field of immunotherapy. Great progress has been made in recent years, and we're proud to be part of it with our new research project.

We've already funded £1 million of world-class ovarian cancer research. With your help we can do so much more. Request your free legacy guide today.

Unlocking the power of the immune system

Target Ovarian Cancer welcomes this new era of immunotherapy research as part of our drive to TAKE OVAR and fund world-class ovarian cancer research in the UK. Led by Dr Martin Miller at the University of Cambridge, the main aim of our new project will be to unlock the power of the immune system to transform ovarian cancer treatments. 

This may sound like an impossible task, but it will be broken down into stages, as Dr Miller and his team initially explore how chemotherapy may unexpectedly activate immune cells in ovarian cancer tumours. They will look at why this positive immune cell response might happen in some but not all patients after chemotherapy treatment. Finally, the scientists will look at unlocking a person’s immune system by exploring new combinations of treatments for ovarian cancer, where chemotherapy and immunotherapy work together to better fight cancer.

Understanding different types of ovarian cancer

Dr Miller’s approach could revolutionise how we treat ovarian cancer in the future. Recent research by Dr Miller has revealed that the immune system may play an important role in slowing the growth of metastatic ovarian cancer, which is ovarian cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. In some women, specific types of white blood cells are found in or near some tumours, and the team found that these women are more likely to survive for longer. However in primary ovarian cancer, which has not spread beyond the ovaries, less is known about the immune system’s response. The team in Cambridge will address this lack of knowledge so they can understand better the interplay between immune cells, cancer cells, and chemotherapy. Once they understand more, they can begin to look at optimising ovarian cancer treatment.

Dr Martin Miller said: “Immunotherapy represents a paradigm shift in clinical oncology, recognised by recent Nobel prize-winning research. Now is the time to test our growing knowledge of how the immune system can play a role in controlling ovarian cancer in this groundbreaking new project.

“This research aims to unlock the power of a person’s own immune system to help target ovarian cancer cells through new combinations of treatments. I am proud that our project is part of this new era of immunotherapy research, and I’m excited to be working with Target Ovarian Cancer, a charity that has recognised the importance of developing more personalised, effective treatment options for women with ovarian cancer.”

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, says: “Immunotherapy is an extremely promising new frontier in ovarian cancer research, and Target Ovarian Cancer hopes to break new ground with this project and see the same incredible success that we’ve seen in other cancers such as melanoma. This new research will give hope to women with ovarian cancer, who for too long have gone without the treatment options they deserve.”

It’s time to TAKE OVAR. Ovarian cancer’s share of UK research funding has dropped by half. Without further funding projects like Dr Miller’s won’t get off the ground. Target Ovarian Cancer has already committed over £1 million to world-class research but we can’t do it alone.

This is our legacy. Will you make it part of yours?