Genetic Treasure Map

Ovarian serous adenocarcinoma genomic mapping offers important new insights

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's the most thorough and comprehensive genetic study of any type of cancer. Now scientists have more information and understanding about ovarian cancer, survival rates and  possible treatments.

New research that mapped the entire genomic structure of ovarian cancer has provided new insights into what genes could be targeted to treat one of the deadliest cancers in women  The research also discovered genetic patterns that predict survival rates. Only 31 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are alive after five years.

Research could lead to new treatment for ovarian cancer.

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network  examined and anyalyzed the genetic make-up of ovarian serous adenocarcinoma, the most common type of ovarian cancer, seen in 85 percent of cases.

This study has provided a tremendous amount of information that could be useful in diagnosing and treating the disease.

Researchers examined tumors from 500 patients. They performed whole genome mapping on 316 tumors and were able to describe genomic characterizations on these tumors along with another 173 specimens.

Here's what the study revealed:

  • Mutations (changes) in a single gene, TP53, were seen in more than 96 percent of tumors
  • TP53 is supposed to stop cancer from forming, but mutations cause it to promote uncontrolled cell growth
  • A number of other mutations were seen in other genes
  • Researchers identified a signature or pattern of 108 genes that indicates a poor outlook
  • Women with this genetic signature lived 23 percent less time than patients without the pattern
  • Another pattern involving 85 genes was associated with better survival
  • The team found 68 genes that could be targeted by existing drugs
  • These drugs, though, may kill only 50 percent of tumors
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations (also seen in breast cancer) are associated with higher survival rates

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. calls it a landmark study that's providing new and important insights into the biology of ovarian cancer that could shape new treatment strategies.

The findings from this study have been published in Nature.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 9, 2011
Last Updated:
August 11, 2011