Ovarian cancer: Help fund groundbreaking work to develop new treatments
Last updated: 09/01/2013
Why this research is needed
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK, with around 6,850 cases diagnosed every year. That means around 130 women every week are told they have the disease.
Although survival rates for ovarian cancer have increased slowly since the 1970s, around 4,400 women still die of the disease each year in the UK.
We urgently need to find more effective treatments so that more women survive in the future.
The impact of your support
Professor Fran Balkwill is passionate about using the results from her lab studies to develop new treatments for ovarian cancer that could save many lives from the disease in the future.
Watch the video to learn more about her research, and meet Barbara Campbell, an ovarian cancer survivor.
A transcript of this video is available.
Supporting this project
Avis donatedGinny, your positivity and ... Ginny, your positivity and fortitude throughout have been amazing. We are so delighted you have this good news - you so deserve it. Lots of love Avis and Bruce more
Julie donatedSuch a worthy cause and mon... Such a worthy cause and money well spent instead of Christmas cards this year. more
Picaboo1967 donatedMay a cure be found and rel... May a cure be found and relieve so many women and their families from the pain of having to go through the journey of ovarian cancer. more
Project closed – January 2013
Thanks to your generous support, we have achieved the fundraising target for Professor Fran Balkwill’s ovarian cancer project. You have helped to raise an amazing £63,000!
Thank you very much for your support in helping us to achieve this target.
Fundraising and donations to this project have now closed, but we are raising money for another area of ovarian cancer research that you can support:
Project update – December 2011
Professor Fran Balkwill contacted us recently with an exciting update:
Over the past few weeks I have been excited and inspired by a review article that I have worked on with twenty-four other scientists and clinician scientists around the world. In view of all the new information we have about ovarian cancers we have described nine actions that we believe could improve the outcomes of women with ovarian cancer. This paper is called ‘Rethinking Ovarian Cancer’. I learnt so much from doing this and it was such a great privilege to work with some of the world’s best ovarian cancer scientists and clinicians.
The review was published by a prestigious review journal, Nature Reviews Cancer, in October 2011. In the final version there were 26 authors from all round the world. We hope it will be really influential and our ideas will impact on the lives of women with ovarian cancer.
We have also published two scientific research papers from our Cancer Research UK funded research since my last update and I will report more on where this research is taking us next time.
Project update - March 2011
We spoke with Dr Reis e Sousa recently, and he's thrilled to see the great support of his work so far. He shared this message with you:
Thank you so much to all who have contributed to funding this project so far. We got off to a good start and have made some very good progress, but still have some way to go towards reaching our funding goal.
Your support enables us to investigate if immune cells called dendritic cells can help direct our bodies’ natural defences to fight cancer. Please spread the word amongst your friends and with your help we will be able to turn basic science discoveries into new medicines!
Project update - July 2011
Professor Fran Balkwill contacted us recently with an updating on how the project is progressing:
Ovarian cancer research is entering an exciting stage at the moment because we now realise that "ovarian" cancer is in fact about six different diseases. There are different faults in the genetic make-up of the cancer, different characteristics of the tumours and the way they work and the fact that tumours may grow in slightly different places.
So what does this mean for our research? Well, we have to look carefully at the models that we use to study ovarian cancer, such as the cells grown in the lab, to make sure they reflect our new knowledge. We’re also developing new, better, models of ovarian cancer.
We’ve made some really great progress on finding new models over the last few months, including some developed in our own lab and some we have developed with international researchers. In fact, one of those collaborations, between us and labs in Australia and Canada, led to a scientific publication on one type of ovarian cancer called clear cell carcinoma, a couple of months ago. We showed how cells from this type of tumour can produce very large amounts of an inflammatory substance called interleukin-6.
We are excited about this new information as we have just completed a clinical trial of a drug that stops interleukin-6 being produced in people with ovarian cancer – and this new paper has given us lots of ideas about what we would like to do in future clinical trials.
International scientific collaboration is not just about sharing models, experiments and ideas between the labs. It’s also about working together to look at all the evidence that is out there and think about the ways we can move science forward. Over the past few weeks I have been excited and inspired by an article I am working on with twenty-four other scientists and doctors around the world to try and improve the outcome for women with the disease.
The article is called Rethinking Ovarian Cancer and will hopefully be published very soon. I have learnt so much from doing this and it has been such a great privilege to work with some of the world’s best ovarian cancer scientists and doctors. It does take a lot of time though. Because some people are in the US and some in Australia it means that emails with suggestions and corrections come through to me 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and are so interesting that I look at them whatever time it is! Despite this I really believe that the final article will be well worth it.
Ovarian cancer news - March 2011
However, there is still more work needed to see the same improvements in women with advanced ovarian cancer - like the research that Professor Balkwill is doing. Your help is vital in this, so keep up the great fundraising work.
Project update - December 2010
Thank you so much for your generous donations – it is exciting and encouraging to see your response.
Things are going well - we have now written up all the data from our early clinical trial testing a potential new treatment that targets a molecule involved in inflammation. We're now planning a second trial to build on the encouraging results.
In the lab, we are making good progress in understanding the complex relationships between cancer cells and the other cells that they attract and corrupt to support their growth. In particular, we are using a cutting-edge new technique called systems biology which we hope will help us find the most effective way to stop cancer cells building up their supporting cellular microenvironment.
Keep up the great work - we really appreciate it!
What’s the science behind this project?
Inflammation is a natural response in our bodies that helps guard us against damage, such as from bacteria.
But in some circumstances, the cells and molecules involved in inflammation are not so helpful. For example, many are found in and around tumours, and scientists have found that these can help cancer cells to grow and survive.
Professor Balkwill is carrying out lab research to understand more about inflammation and ovarian cancer. She aims to translate this into new treatments for the disease.
Her team is investigating two particular molecules, called TNF-alpha and IL-6, to understand how they are involved in encouraging ovarian cancer growth.
Professor Balkwill wants to develop new treatments that can block the action of these molecules. She hopes to take any potential new drugs into clinical trials as quickly as possible to find out whether they can slow down or stop ovarian cancer growth. With Professor Iain McNeish at the Barts Cancer Research UK Centre, she has already completed one early clinical trial with encouraging results.
The difference you can make
Although survival rates for ovarian cancer have increased slowly since the 1970s, around 4,400 women still die of the disease each year in the UK. We urgently need to find more effective treatments so that more women survive in the future.
As the largest single funder of research into ovarian cancer in the UK, Cancer Research UK is in an ideal position to do this.
Please help us raise £63,000 to help fund the running costs of this research project for a year.
Meet Barbara and Ken
Barbara Campbell and her husband Ken welcomed the MyProjects team into their sunny garden near Bournemouth to share Barbara’s experience with ovarian cancer.
Barbara was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 9 years ago. After successful treatment, she strives to make the most of each day, whether it’s tending to her garden or spending time with family.
She and Ken believe strongly in the efforts of MyProject supporters who are helping to fund research into ovarian cancer.
"I think the people that raise money for cancer research really are doing a world of good. People really rely on this for their lives. Whether they can get a pound, two pounds, or a thousand pounds, every little bit helps."
See more of Barbara and Ken in the video above.