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Research and Clinical Trials

The following are summaries of several Hopkins ovarian cancer research topics:

Abdominal Chemo Boots Survival In Ovarian Cancer Patients
--Study Led by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Suggests New Treatment Standard for Advanced Disease

A 50-year-old method for delivering chemotherapy directly into the abdomen is making a comeback as investigators have found that it increases survival – by more than a year – in some women with advanced ovarian cancer.  Results from a seven-year study of more than 400 patients nationwide are published in the January 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.  More Information.

New Nanosensor Uses Quantum Dots to Detect DNA

Quick, Highly Sensitive Method Makes Genetic Material Glow

Using tiny semiconductor crystals, biological probes and a laser, Johns Hopkins University engineers have developed a new method of finding specific sequences of DNA by making them light up beneath a microscope.

The researchers, who say the technique will have important uses in medical research, demonstrated its potential in their lab by detecting a sample of DNA containing a mutation linked to ovarian cancer.

More Information

Hopkins Scientists Use Blood Proteins to Detect Ovarian Cancer

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers have designed a blood test to detect ovarian cancer using three proteins found in common in the blood of women with the disease.  Their preliminary studies with the new test suggest a molecular signature exclusive to this deadly cancer, known for its ability to remain undetected and spread quickly.

Inexperienced Surgeons Operate On Most Ovarian Cancer Patients In Maryland --Investigator calls results “alarming."

Johns Hopkins researchers report that more than half of ovarian cancer surgeries in Maryland are done by surgeons who perform the operation only once or at most four times a year.  Previous studies have shown that poor outcomes after such surgery are twice as likely in hospitals with ovarian cancer surgery volumes of fewer than 10 cases per year. 

Their report, in the May edition of Gynecologic Oncology, also said nearly half (49.6 percent) of the ovarian cancer procedures were being performed in such hospitals.

More information

Bristow, Robert E., et. al., “Ovarian cancer surgery in Maryland: volume-based access to care.” Gynecologic Oncology, 93 (2004), 353-360.

--by: Vanessa Wasta

New Bloodless Laser Removes More Tumor Than Traditional Surgery

Survival of patients with advanced stages of ovarian cancer depends on complete removal of tumors. Robert Bristow, M.D., and others from The Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service at Johns Hopkins Medicine, found that a new surgical tool, the argon beam coagulator (ABC), removed more tumor than traditional surgery. The ABC uses a “laser beam” to cut with more precision than a surgical knife and reduces blood loss during surgery.  The researchers encourage use of tools like the ABC to remove as much tumor as possible and increase patient survival.

This work was supported in part by Conmed Corporation, the company that makes the ABC.

Bristow, R.E., Smith Sehdev, A.E., Kaufman, H.S., and Montz, F.J. (2001) Gynecol. Oncol. 83(1):49-55 And Bristow, R.E., and Montz, F.J. (2001) Gynecol. Oncol. 83(1): 39-48

--by:  Diane Beauvencamp

Unique Protein Pattern Identifies Aggressive Endometrial Cancer

It is not known how endometriosis, the abnormal placement of cells outside of the womb, progresses to an aggressive cancer of the ovaries called endometriosis-associated ovarian carcinoma (EAOC). Robert Bristow, M.D., and others from The Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the Magee-Women’s Hospital, noticed inappropriate expression of three proteins in EAOC tumor cells. They saw an increase of vascular endothelial growth factor (to levels that encourage tumor growth), and a decrease of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor (that encourages cells to move to abnormal places in the body). Other types of ovarian cancers do not show the same protein fingerprint. These new techniques should better identify EAOC tumors and therefore increase treatment success.

J.P. Fruehauf is Chief Scientific Officer of Oncotech Incorporated, the commercial lab that performed some of the tests.

Del Carmen, M.G., Smith Sehdev, A.E., Nickles Fader, A., Zahurak, M.L., Richardson, M., Fruehauf, J.P., Montz, F.J., and Bristow, R.E. (2003) Cancer 98(8): 1658-1663

--by:  Diane Beauvencamp

Correct Identification and Complete Tumor Removal Is Crucial To Survival

Little is known about micropapillary serous ovarian carcinoma (MPSC), a distinct, aggressive ovarian cancer. Robert Bristow, M.D., and others from the Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service at Johns Hopkins Medicine, found that only 25% of MPSC patients respond to chemotherapy. Instead, they determined that correct identification and complete removal of the original MPSC tumor leads to longer survival times.

Bristow, R.E., Gossett, D.R., Shook, D.R., Zahurak, M.L., Tomacruz, R.S., Armstrong, D.K., and Montz, F.J. (2002) Gynecol Oncol 86(2):163-170

--by:  Diane Beauvencamp

Skill of Surgeon Improves Survival

Women who have cancer labeled as advanced epithelial ovarian carcinoma normally have the tumor removed by a non-specialized surgeon, and then receive chemotherapy. However, Robert Bristow, M.D., with others from the Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service at Johns Hopkins Medicine, showed that complete tumor removal by surgeons with specific expertise in gynecologic oncology or at expert centers increased patient survival time by 50%. The researchers urge that all women with ovarian cancer have access to expert centers for initial surgery.

Bristow, R.E., Tomacruz, R.S., Armstrong, D.K., Trimble, E.L., Montz, F.J., J Clin Oncol, (2002) 20(5):1248-1259

--by:  Diane Beauvencamp


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