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    Research home > Beat Cancer Project > Ovarian cancer: Improving treatment and survival

    Ovarian cancer: Improving treatment and survival

    Dr Carmella Ricciardelli

    Hyaluronan: a marker and therapeutic target to overcome ovarian cancer chemoresistance

    Our research

    Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease and the leading cause of death from gynaecological cancers, affecting approximately 1 in 90 women in Australia. Over 70% of patients present with advanced disease, and despite improvements in surgery and new developments in chemotherapy, ovarian cancer mortality rates have not changed dramatically over the last decade. Significant improvement in ovarian cancer survival will require the development of new ovarian cancer biomarkers (biological indicators of disease) for early detection and more effective targeted therapeutics (i.e. drugs that interfere with specific molecules involved in cancer cell growth and survival). Our research is focused on greater understanding of the mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance and improving survival outcomes for patients with ovarian cancer.

    What we aim to achieve

    Our research demonstrates that enzyme interactions between hyaluronan (HA)-CD44 play an important role in the development of resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy.

    We plan to;

    • Define the role of HA in chemo-resistance. 
    • Identify key proteins that are regulated by HA and could be targeted to overcome chemo-resistance. 
    • Determine whether HA and HA-regulated proteins can be used as markers to identify ovarian cancer patients at high risk of developing chemo-resistant disease and early recurrence. 

    Earlier diagnosis of chemo-resistance in patients with ovarian cancer would have important treatment implications. It would allow tailoring of therapies to individual patients. It would also prevent unnecessary toxicities in those patients who are chemo resistant and would not benefit from the treatment. Instead, they could be enrolled in clinical trials earlier or treated with other experimental therapeutics to improve survival. 

    By reducing HA production or interactions with other molecules, we may be able to reverse chemoresistance and promote cancer cell death, ultimately leading to improved survival.

    What motivates me

    My ultimate aim is make a difference to and improve survival outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer. Recently, I was touched by cancer in a personal way when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. My personal experience has made me even more determined to work as hard as possible to make a difference.

    My message to supporters

    Funds from Cancer Council SA are currently being used to investigate several inhibitors that could be used as new drugs to overcome chemoresistance in the future. My ultimate aim is make a difference to and improve survival outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer. We are very grateful for all the hard work and dedication from supporters of Cancer Council SA that have helped raise funds for important cancer research in South Australia.


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