Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the western world and more than 25 per cent of women do not respond to standard first-line chemotherapy treatment — grim statistics that one TFRI project is working to counter.
“Women treated for ovarian cancer in Canada receive very much the same treatments across the country. We want to identify those women who will respond to treatment as well as those that won’t, so we can avoid the toxicities and offer them other choices that are available” says Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson, COEUR co-principal investigator, based at the Centre Hospitalier de L’Université de Montréal.
The Canadian Ovarian Experimental Unified Resource (COEUR) team has collected more than 2,000 ovarian cancer samples from patients across Canada since 2009.
Explains Dr. Mes-Masson: “Our goal has been to create a cohort of patients who have had ovarian cancer and to collect their biological samples so we can ask questions about sub-typing the disease, but also to identify biomarkers that would allow us to better stratify patients when it comes to treatment.”
This means that in the future, treatment for these patients would be personalized – applying the best treatment available for the tumour type identified.
COEUR is a great example of the teamwork philosophy of TFRI, adds Dr. Mes-Masson.
“No centre in Canada would have had the resources to undertake such a large project by themselves,” she says. “It’s really required all of the tumour banks across Canada to come together with their own partners in order to be able to reach our goal.”