2011 Grants

The role of Larp1 protein in the development of ovarian cancer chemotherapy

Dr. Sarah Blagden, Mis Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami, Dr. Justin Sturge, Dr. Euan Stronach
Gary Weston Cancer Centre, Imperial College
£183, 855 over 36 months

Lead RAC member statement:
This project seeks to understand mechanisms which lead to a more malignant behaviour in ovarian cancer. The project has the potential to define a new target for treatment and may also find a marker which could be used to tailor treatment and allow women who are unlikely to respond to platinum-based chemotherapy to be given alternative treatment and avoid the toxicity of ineffectual treatment. It is a novel area for research and this is a well-planned, logical project to be performed by a group with an excellent track record.


The role of LARP1 protein in the development of ovarian cancer chemotherapy resistance
Dr Sarah Blagden, Imperial College, London - £183,855 over 36 months
Ovarian cancer kills 4,300 women per year in the UK and is the cause of nearly a quarter a million deaths per year worldwide. It is a particularly lethal cancer, killing 63% of the women diagnosed with the disease within 5 years. The survival rate is so low because women with ovarian cancer often become resistant to chemotherapy. Currently, all patients with advanced ovarian cancer are treated with “standard chemotherapy” in combination with surgery.
This “one treatment fits all” approach means that patients with resistance to standard forms of chemotherapy (such as platinum) must complete a course of platinum-based chemotherapy.
Not only does this  expose the patient to the toxic side effects of chemotherapy, but also does not kill the cancer cells, In fact, it allows the resistant ovarian cancer cells to become well-established and to multiply.
This project seeks to understand the role of a particular gene product (LARP1 protein), which increases the malignancy of ovarian cancer cells/ Dr Blagden’s hypothesis is that Larp1 can cause chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer. Using samples obtained from ovarian cancer patients, her team aim to establish whether Larp1 can be used as a prospective marker to identify which patients due to start or already undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer will develop a resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy. The aim of the project is to develop new, more effective drugs and more tailored treatments for ovarian cancer.
This project has the potential to define a new marker which could help doctors predict which women with ovarian cancer are unlikely to respond to platinum-based chemotherapy. These women can then avoid the toxic side-effects of ineffective treatments and be given alternative treatments immediately. 

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