Exploring blood-based biomarkers to benefit obstetrics and gynaecological cancer patients

The absence of clinically useful biomarkers for earlier detection is a major contributor to little progress being made in the survival of women with ovarian cancer over the past 20 years.

By focusing on developing real-time monitoring tools for chemotherapy efficiency and cancer recurrence using extracellular vesicles in patients with advanced ovarian cancer, the group aims to translate these discoveries into clinical practice to save women’s lives. 

Thanks to the generous support of a single donor, the lab has been able to establish the June Summers Research Fellowship, and announced its inaugural Fellow, Dr Soumyalekshmi Nair.

Dr Nair has said that completing her PhD under the supervision of Associate Professor Salomon changed her career trajectory to now focus on the implications of understanding the extracellular vesicle genomics on women’s life by improving the early detection and targeted therapeutics in diseases such as ovarian cancer.

“I believe that medical research has a critical role in improving women’s health and wellbeing by driving innovations in disease diagnosis and treatment. My passion to contribute to women’s health inspired me to pursue my pathway in research.

Ovarian cancer is a significant health issue with a lasting impact on the whole community. It is the sixth most commonly reported cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, accounting for 5% of all cancer mortality in developed countries.

In Australia, a woman dies of ovarian cancer every eight hours, and the major contributing factor to the high mortality is the lack of clinically useful biomarkers for earlier detection of ovarian cancer, and thus, there is an urgent need for non-invasive, specific biomarkers, to identify patients at early stages of ovarian cancer.

It is Dr Nair’s hope that focusing on extracellular vesicle genomics will have implications in women’s life by improving the early detection and targeted therapeutics in ovarian cancer.

“Research is one of the most exciting and challenging careers. Research can touch the lives of many people. It requires immense of dedication and perseverance to make spectacular achievements in research.”

Thanks to the generous support they have received through the June Summers Research Fellowship, the Translational Extracellular Vesicles in Obstetrics and Gynae-Oncology Group is moving towards early detection of ovarian cancer.

Source –  The University of Queensland

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