In United States, Ovarian Cancer has become the leading cause of death in women. Each year approximately 22,280 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and out of those 14,240 die. Women with strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer or who have tested positive for inherited mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are often at high risk. Ovarian cancer is touted as “Silent Killer” as the disease progresses before the symptoms are recognized, which include bloating and back pain. In 75 percent of the cases, women do not learn about the disease until the cancer has progressed into stage III.

Treatment options available for treating ovarian cancer include surgery and chemotherapy. In most of the cases, patients respond to first-line chemotherapy; however, 80 percent of the cases show relapse, and more than half of them die within 5 years of diagnosis. Various immunotherapies such as monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors and immune modulators, therapeutic vaccines, adoptive T cell transfer, oncolytic viruses and adjuvant immunotherapies are now being developed and are in various clinical phases of development.

Advanced researches are ongoing in top institutions in collaboration with drug developers for more effective and reliable treatment. Recently, researchers at Oxford found a novel target “SIK2”, an enzyme having a role in ‘burning’ fat to produce energy that is needed by the cancer cells to survive in the omentum. SIK2 not only helps ovarian tumors to grow but also supports its development and metastasis. Scientists at The Wistar Institute have discovered a receptor expressed exclusively on ovarian cells, and this discovery may allow them to utilize targeted T-cell technology to potentially eliminate cancerous cells in patients.

These vigorous research and development activities by scientists and drug developers are raising hope for achieving more promising therapeutics for ovarian cancer in the future. Companies like AbbVie (Veliparib), Tesaro (Niraparib), AstraZeneca (Cediranib), Novartis (Pazopanib), and CTI BioPharma (Paclitaxel Poliglumex) have progressed their lead compounds in highest stage of clinical development. Over 200 drugs are in pipeline for the treatment of ovarian cancer out of which nearly half of them had entered clinical stage of development.

Insight by:
Jyoti Kumari
Associate Analyst