A team of researchers from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cedars-Sinai Cancer and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has identified 34 genes that are associated with an increased risk for developing the earliest stages of ovarian cancer. The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, will both help identify women who are at highest risk of developing ovarian cancer and pave the way for identifying new therapies that can target these specific genes.
The study was co-led by Simon Gayther, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at Cedars-Sinai; Bogdan Pasaniuc, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Alexander Gusev, assistant professor of medical oncology at Dana-Farber; and Kate Lawrenson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai.
“If you detect ovarian cancer really early, then the survival rate is very high, nearly 90 percent,” said Pasaniuc, who is also a member of the UCLA cancer center. “But that doesn’t happen often. Most cases are found at a later stage and survival drops dramatically. That’s why we want to understand the genetics behind it—so we can do a better job at predicting who is at a higher risk of developing this cancer.”
The current study builds on previous research of large-scale genetic data gathered over more than a decade by the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. Those researchers compared the genetic profiles of about 25,000 women with ovarian cancer and 45,000 women without the disease. The investigators found more than 30 regions in the genome that are associated with ovarian cancer.