Researchers Discover Antibody that May Help Detect Ovarian Cancer in its Earliest Stages

Captured by Rush Medical Center

Using a new approach to developing biomarkers for the very early detection of ovarian cancer, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have identified a molecule in the bloodstream of infertile women that could one day be used to screen for those at high risk for the disease — or even those with early-stage ovarian cancer.

The molecule, an antibody that the human body manufactures, is an autoimmune response to mesothelin. This well-studied protein is found in abundance on the surface of ovarian cancer cells but present only in limited amounts in normal human tissue.

The study is published in the online version issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, published by the American Society for Cancer Research.

“The finding is extremely important because at present medical tests are unable to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages, which is why death rates from this disease are so high,” said Judith Luborsky, PhD, professor of pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology and preventive medicine at Rush and lead author of the study.

“Our approach to discovering cancer biomarkers was unique in this study. Instead of investigating molecules specific to ovarian cancer alone, we asked what molecules women with a risk of ovarian cancer and those with ovarian cancer had in common,” Luborsky said.

The study enabled the researchers to explain the link between infertility and ovarian cancer that has been established in numerous epidemiological surveys. Read more…

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