Hopes of finding an early-warning signal for ovarian cancer have been boosted by a protein discovery at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).
A research team from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New EnglandHealth, comprising cancer scientists, oncologists, gynaecologists and geneticists, spent three years investigating the earliest lesions involved in the disease with the goal of developing a biomarker test.
As published in the international biology journal Development, they detected elevated levels of ‘Wnt’ proteins being secreted by ovarian lesions.
This signalling, in turn, regulates a stem cell in the fallopian tube that spurs cancer formation. “The lesions are so small they can’t be seen with MRI, ultrasound or a camera until it’s too late. But we now have a good sketch of the thief, which will help us to catch it,” lead researcher Dr Pradeep Tanwar, from the University of Newcastle, says.