Yorkshire Cancer Research has awarded scientists at the University of Leeds more than £41,000 for further research into the identification of drug resistant cells in ovarian cancer.

One of the deadliest cancers in women, ovarian cancer is hard to detect as symptoms can easily be confused with other abdominal issues, it is also notoriously difficult to treat.

Dr Sandra Bell, leading the study at the University of Leeds said: “Many women have chemotherapy after surgery to reduce the possibility of the cancer returning. Unfortunately, and for reasons we do not yet understand, a large number (30-40%) of these patients produce cancer cells that are not killed by current drugs.”

Ovarian cancer stem cells (CSC’s) are thought to be one mechanism by which tumours become resistant to chemotherapy.

Senior Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, Dr Bell said: “We propose to develop a way to identify these drug resistant CSC populations within ovarian cancers. The future investigation of these cells will increase our understanding of how drug resistance occurs and potentially lead to new treatment strategies.”

In 2009 75% of women presenting with the ovarian cancer had stage III or stage IV cancer; where it has already spread beyond the ovaries.

Unlike breast and cervical cancer screening programmes, there is currently no national screening process for ovarian cancer in the UK.

Last year Yorkshire Cancer Research spent £5m on funding world-class research, treatment and diagnostic projects throughout the region.

For more information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk.


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