Ovarian cancer

Identifying drivers of ovarian cancer

Dr Emily Colvin, A/Prof Viive Howell
We have developed a valuable preclinical model system that can be used to identify genes which act as “key drivers” of ovarian cancer initiation. This will add value to the current large scale studies sequencing human cancer tissues as these studies cannot distinguish “key driver mutations” from those which are innocent “passenger mutations”.

Knowledge of the genes involved in the initiation of ovarian cancer is pivotal to developing improved prognostic indicators and effective treatments.

Funding: CINSW Early Career Fellowship (Viive Howell), Cancer Council NSW (Viive Howell)


The Ovarian Tumour Microenvironment

Dr Emily Colvin, Ms Angela Cho, Mr Samuel Yuen, A/Prof Viive Howell

Development of resistance to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer is a major problem and new treatment strategies are needed. Our research aims to determine whether targeting the structural support in ovarian tumours with new drugs, rather than the tumour cells themselves, is an effective way to treat ovarian cancer.

Funding: CINSW Early Career Fellowship (Emily Colvin), Cure Cancer Australia Foundation (Emily Colvin), University of Sydney Early Career Grant (Emily Colvin)


The application of nanoparticles for ovarian cancer theranostics

Dr Emily Colvin, A/Prof Viive Howell in collaboration with A/Prof Brian Hawkett (Key Centre For Polymer Colloids, Dept of Chemistry, University of Sydney) and Dr Steve Jones.

Theranostics is a new term to describe the combining of therapy and diagnosis and nanotechnology / nanomedicine uses devices or particles on a nanometer scale: a nanometer (nm) is one-billionth of a meter.

In this study we investigated the safety and biodistribution (where the treatment goes to in the body) of novel iron oxide nanoparticles in preclinical models of ovarian cancer. These nanoparticles were found to be safe, non-toxic and have an affinity for ovarian tumours and the omentum (the most common organ that ovarian cancer spreads to). Given this desirable distribution profile, we are aiming to further investigate whether these nanoparticles can be used as an imaging tool to aid in earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer as well as a drug delivery tool to aid in targeted delivery of chemotherapy to the tumour.