New research to stop the progression of ovarian cancer

FECRI research team, Dr Ruth Escalona, Dr Jason Kelly, Professor Nuzhat Ahmed, and Professor George Kannourakis have published research into Ovarian cancer in the journal Cancer Cell International- “Knock down of TIMP-2 by siRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 mediates diverse cellular reprogramming of metastasis and chemosensitivity in ovarian cancer”.


Ovarian cancer is a terrible disease and unfortunately has the the poorest survival rate of any female cancer in Australia.

Every eight-hour one woman dies of ovarian cancer in Australia. There are no early-stage screening markers. Most patients are diagnosed at the advanced-stage, when the cancer has spread to abdominal organs, which is difficult to remove and treat.

Head of the Ovarian cancer research at the Institute, Professor Nuzhat Ahmed said “Our research is important to understand the mechanisms of how chemo resistant disease develops and what makes this disease aggressive.”

The recently published results focus on the biological process of ovarian cancer and the high level of a protein called MMPs in the cells that are present in chemo resistance cells, allowing for the cancer to grow, move, and progress to other organs. The FECRI team have found an inhibitor (TIMPS) used in conjunction with chemotherapy can dampen the MMPS protein and stop this biological process. In using this inhibitor in treatment, the cancer would be less likely to spread and be a better treatment for aggressive ovarian cancer.

Next steps for the research are to model this inhibitor stopping the growth and progression of the ovarian cancer, that would allow this to progress to clinical trials.

Institute Director of FECRI, Professor George Kannourakis stated, “This publication is a great example of the relevant and ground-breaking work that the team here at the Institute are doing into the immunology of cancer. Our program is building great momentum and will continue to produce outcomes.”

This research was undertaken with support of the John Turner Cancer Research Fund to Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.