Ovarian cancer kills more than 40 000 women in Europe and more than 150 000 women globally each year. High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is the most common and most difficult to treat subtype of the disease. The high-grade serous tumours consist of several heterogeneous cell populations with a large number of mutations. This genetic variability of the tumours makes it difficult to find drugs that would be able to kill all the cancer cells and to which some of the cells would not become resistant during treatment. Therefore, though most of the patients respond well to surgery and chemotherapy initially, more than half experience relapse.
The study population of this prospective trial consists of HGSOC patients who have surgery in Turku University Central Hospital and who give their informed consent. Currently we have recruited >350 patients. We collect fresh tumor samples from surgeries (primary tumors, metastases, ascites) and plasma samples during 1st line treatment and disease relapse. In order to connect the information from the analysis of the samples to clinical information to know how well the patient responded to the treatments, we have compiled a database where we store the clinical information relevant for the research project.
The samples are first processed at University of Turku, where the researchers have optimised the methods to deliver as good quality samples for further experiments and analysis as possible. In order to obtain in-depth information on the tumour cells, we are using the latest sequencing and mass cytometry technologies. To identify and study the different cells that make up the tumours, we have been analysing the DNA (genome), RNA (expression of the genes), circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA; tumour DNA fragment in blood) at University of Helsinki (Finland).
HERCULES PROJECT https://project-hercules.eu/index.html
HERCULES (2016-6/2021) is an EU funded project aiming to overcome drug resistance in ovarian cancer.
DECIDER (Improved clinical decisions via integrating multiple data levels to overcome chemotherapy resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer) is a research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 965193 from February 1, 2021 to January 31, 2026.
The mains goals of DEDICER are to develop diagnostic tools and treatments for high-grade serous ovarian cancer with the help of AI methods. The aim is to identify earlier those patients who do not respond well to the first-line treatments, and to find effective treatments to patients with a drug-resistant cancer.
We also study the legal issues that impede or slow down the use of new treatments in order to facilitate commercialization and availability of personalized therapies in an ethically and legally sustainable manner.