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Promising signs in UC research into treating ovarian cancer

Promising signs in UC research into treating ovarian cancer

October 17, 2012

A University of Canterbury (UC) research project in collaboration with the Christchurch School of Medicine has shown some promising signs in the treatment of ovarian cancer.

UC student researcher Simon Hogg said ovarian cancer was a challenging disease to treat and was classed as the most lethal gynaecological cancer.

Without effective methods for screening and early detection, patients are typically not diagnosed until the disease has spread beyond the ovary and can become resistant to anti-cancer drugs. There is a desperate need for a new anti-cancer drug to improve the survival of women with advanced disease, Hogg said today.

He said his research found that naturally-occurring compounds could be employed to fight ovarian cancer.

``We are beginning to realise the clinical potential of these compounds. My study adds to a growing body of knowledge identifying naturally-occurring compounds in our diet which help fight against cancer. This is an exciting opportunity because compared to many synthetic drugs, naturally-occurring compounds are cheap, non-toxic, and easily accessible to the general public.

``Ongoing research at UC in collaboration with Dr Kenny Chitcholtan from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Christchurch School of Medicine aims to shed further light on compounds present in food and beverages that may be useful for entirely natural therapeutic interventions.

``Data I collected is consistent with the idea that lifestyle factors are associated with the rates of certain cancers, notably through dietary exposure. The identification of these compounds present in food and beverages that play anti-tumour roles against cancer is important for completing our understanding of the disease itself and guiding the design of new therapeutics.’’

Hogg’s research, supervised by UC’s Dr Ashley Garrill, studied the anti-tumour effects in advanced ovarian cancer cells. Results from his study suggested further investigation was warranted.

``The compounds used in my research were all naturally-occurring compounds produced by plants. The problem was that the compound (resveratrol) was quickly eliminated from the body before it could exert a beneficial effect.

``My results are significant as they suggest acetyl-resveratrol has similar anti-tumour activity to the parental compound, resveratrol. I believe that natural-occurring compounds are a feasible source of chemicals that can be employed to fight cancer,’’ Hogg said.

He will deliver his findings at the UC’s annual science biology conference on campus today.

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