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Why does ovarian cancer become resistant to chemotherapy?

Wellbeing of Women has invested £20,000 into Dr Rachel Pounds’ project investigating a disease that takes thousands of lives a year

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death from cancer among women.

At first, chemotherapy works for 80% of women with this cancer – but within a couple of years, most of them find that it comes back, this time resistant to treatment.

Experts are still far from fully understanding why this happens, and how they can stop ovarian cancer from returning. So tragically, just seven in 10 women with ovarian cancer are alive a year after they were diagnosed.

This is why Dr Rachel Pounds and her team want to understand why ovarian cancer becomes resistant to therapy, and how they can manage and treat it.

In the project, her team will analyse ovarian tumour cells, what happens when they become resistant to chemotherapy and try to understand why this takes place.

Using new cutting-edge technology called Drop-Seq she will analyse individual ovarian tumour cells and find out what could predispose certain women to developing cancer that comes back in this way.

Her team look at cells and tissue that surround tumours to better understand how these areas might encourage cancer to develop and closely compare cells before chemotherapy to those after chemotherapy to find out what really happens when cancer becomes resistant to treatment.

By learning more about the disease, Dr Pounds and her team will help scientists and doctors create future treatments that prevent ovarian cancer from coming back – giving thousands of women a new chance at survival.