SCIENTISTS in Singapore have made new breakthroughs in ovarian cancer.
A team from the Institute of Medical Biology successfully identified a biomarker of ovarian stem cells, which may mean earlier detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.
Led by Prof Nicholas Barker, the team has identified a molecule, known as Lgr5, on cells from the tissue covering the ovary.
Using Lgr5 as an indicator of ovarian stem cells, scientists are able to monitor the development of these cells.
“Researchers have been intensively looking for markers of ovary stem cells for decades so that identification of Lgr5 as a specific marker is a major breakthrough,” Prof Barker said.
“We can now rigorously investigate if these stem cells are the origin of human ovarian cancer and if so, how to target and eradicate them.”
Currently, ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage due to the absence of early warning symptoms.
Ovarian cancer is now the fifth most common cancer in Singapore among women, with about 280 cases diagnosed annually and 90 deaths a year.
Scientists at the Bioinformatics Institute have also found a gene called Checkpoint Kinase 2, which is an effective indicator of patient survival among those with high-grade serious ovarian carcinoma (HG-SOC).
This is one of the most lethal ovarian cancers. Only 30% of patients survive more than five years after diagnoses. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network