Public Release: 

Mayo Clinic awarded major grant for ovarian cancer research

Mayo Clinic

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Investigators at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center have received a five-year, $11.5 million grant to translate research into treatments for women with ovarian cancer.

Every year in the United States, more than 16,000 women die from the disease and another 22,000 are diagnosed, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The award from the NCI is called a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. It is the seventh SPORE grant that Mayo has received to support cancer research.

"The Mayo Ovarian Cancer SPORE is uniquely poised to address key challenges in ovarian cancer," says Lynn Hartmann, M.D., lead investigator of the newly awarded SPORE. "Our balance of basic, population science and clinical research programs within the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center enables us to pursue major issues in ovarian cancer, such as chemotherapy resistance, and quickly move new approaches into the clinic."

During the past 30 years, improved treatment options for women with ovarian cancer have extended the average length of survival after diagnosis, but the ultimate cure rate has not changed significantly.

The Mayo Ovarian Cancer SPORE consists of four projects that aim to:

  • Combine a new enzyme inhibitor, a PARP inhibitor, with topotecan, an established chemotherapy drug for ovarian cancer. The PARP inhibitor is intended to augment topotecan's effectiveness.
  • Determine inherited factors that control a woman's immune response to ovarian cancer.
  • Advance new therapy, developed at Mayo, based on re-engineered viruses that invade and destroy ovarian cancer cells.
  • Test the impact of a small molecule drug, flavopiridol, that prevents ovarian cancer resistance to platinum chemotherapy.

Dr. Hartmann is co-leader of Mayo's Women's Cancer Program and a professor of oncology in the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. In the past 20 years, she has led numerous studies relating to ovarian cancer and published over 150 research papers, nearly half of them on ovarian disease. Her colleagues in the Mayo Ovarian Cancer SPORE include a unique blend of physician-scientists, basic/translational researchers, population scientists, and statisticians. The SPORE's co-leader, Scott Kaufmann, M.D., Ph.D., is a laboratory scientist who specializes in mechanisms of chemo-resistance in cancer cells. The team also includes cancer center members Harry Long, M.D; Keith Knutson, Ph.D.; Ellen Goode, Ph.D.; Keith Bible, M.D., Ph.D.; Viji Shridhar, Ph.D.; Evanthia Galanis, M.D.; and Kah Whye Peng, Ph.D.; Debra Bell, M.D.; Ann Oberg, Ph.D.; and Kim Kalli, Ph.D. This scientific team is guided by a strong group of patient advocates, led by Ms. Pat Haugen of Sioux Falls, SD and Ms. Kathleen Gavin, executive director of the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

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Mayo's other SPOREs focus on cancers of the breast, brain, prostate, and pancreas. Two shared SPOREs study lymphoma (with the University of Iowa) and myeloma (with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute).

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy of "the needs of the patient come first." More than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers and 46,000 allied health staff work at Mayo Clinic, which has sites in Rochester, Minn., Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, the three locations treat more than half a million people each year. To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news. For information about research and education, visit www.mayo.edu. MayoClinic.com (www.mayoclinic.com) is available as a resource for your health stories.

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