Publish Date: 
Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 13:15

TRI researchers have received vital funding from the Australian Government to trial a new diagnostic for epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), the first study of its kind in humans.

Mater Research scientist, Professor John Hooper, is leading the trial in collaboration with UQ scientists Associate Professor Paul Thomas and Professor Trent Munro.

According to Professor Hooper the trial will assess the safety of a new radio-tracer for ovarian cancer.

“We're going to test if it can help as a contrast agent to detect epithelial ovarian cancer by PET-CT scan,” he said.

EOC is the most common type of ovarian tumour that develops in the lining of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

A/Prof Thomas said while EOC generally responded to initial treatments, the disease eventually progressed in most patients, and narrowed their options for symptom management and remission.

“By administering this new agent, we will attach a tracer to the ovarian cancer cells, which is expected to make detection of the disease easier during radiology scans, similar to what is currently performed with prostate cancer diagnosis,” he said.

Late diagnosis and treatment continue to be the biggest challenges facing ovarian cancer patients with 1510 Australian women diagnosed with the disease, and 1046 deaths reported in 2019.

Professor Trent Munro said improved tracking of ovarian cancer may lead to new treatment options for EOC and guide future interventional clinical trials.

"It will utilise the advanced biomanufacturing capabilities of the NCRIS National Biologics Facility at the AIBN, CSIRO facilities and the Queensland Health radio-pharmacy laboratory,” Professor Munro said.

The trial is being conducted at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Nuclear Medicine Department with the support of Associate Professor Lewis Perrin's Gynaecological Oncology unit at the Mater Hospital

In Australia and across the world, ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all female cancers. On average, only 43 out of 100 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are still alive five years after their diagnosis.

Cancer Australia estimates that more than 1500 new cases will be diagnosed and more than 1000 women will die from ovarian cancer in Australia in 2020.

This article was first published by UQ News.

Read more about MRFF grant awarded to this study via the Federal Government statement