Researchers identify ovarian cancer biomarkers

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Researchers have identified markers unique to the cells of blood vessels running through ovarian tumors. The finding, while preliminary, could one day improve screening, diagnosis and treatment for this disease.

The team of researchers from the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and universities in Greece and Italy, used a laser technique to isolate blood vessel cells from 21 ovarian tumors and four normal ovarian tissue samples. From there, they were able to determine which genes the vascular cells expressed.

The results identified more than 70 markers that were present in large amounts in the blood vessels of cancer tissue but not in the vessels of normal tissues. The researchers went on to study in detail 12 markers that had not previously been linked to tumor blood vessels. The study appears in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Some of these genes, depending on how highly expressed they were in the tumor vasculature, were also prognostic of a patient's survival. We suspect when these genes are highly expressed it may be a sign of a tumor that's able to grow blood vessels more efficiently, and therefore is more aggressive. This may help us down the road in treatment decisions," says lead study author Ronald Buckanovich, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Buckanovich was at the University of Pennsylvania when he conducted this research.

The study analyzed the largest number of samples to date in tumor vasculature, or blood vessel, profiling. While many of the genes identified in this analysis have been shown previously to be involved in tumor vasculatures for other cancer types, several of the markers appear to be new.

In addition, the researchers were able to determine that some of the markers present in large amounts in ovarian tumors were not expressed by no

Contact: Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System

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