Ensuring women have treatment options for ovarian cancer

Monday 24 February, 2020

New research into ovarian cancer treatments will change outcomes for many women diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer.

Funding for the project is part of the Cancer Council Victoria’s Grants-in-Aid program that funds high-quality research projects into the treatment, causes, detection and prevention of all cancers and is co-funded by the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF). Two projects in this year’s Grants In Aid have also been funded by the Victorian Government through the Victorian Cancer Agency.

The ovarian cancer project, Identifying new treatment options for the rare and aggressive ovarian carcinosarcoma., will use a “unique toolbox” of pre-clinical models and screening technology which will give insight into potential therapies and allow new treatments to be tested. 

While there is currently a range of treatments available for some ovarian cancers, fewer exist for ovarian carcinosarcoma (OCS) which has features of two different types of cancer. The rare incidence and lack of symptoms women experience means patients are often diagnosed at a late stage with treatments more suited for other types of ovarian cancers, such as high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC).

Dr Holly Barker, a senior postdoctoral fellow at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, has received funding to find tailored treatments that ensure people affected by OCS have better outcomes than they currently do.

“We aim to challenge and refine the current treatment strategy for this rare, aggressive cancer. From the results of this study, we can learn valuable lessons to benefit many rare cancer patients, hopefully beyond OCS,” she said.

Other successful Grants-In-Aid projects include:

  • Looking at how ageing affects cancer risk
  • Using immunotherapy to take on all cancers including solid tumours
  • Researching how to eliminate the leukemic contamination within ovarian tissue, to enable an approach to restore fertility

Head of Strategy and Support at Cancer Council Victoria, Danielle Spence, said that these projects were selected for their chances of making the next breakthrough in cancer treatment.

“Our Grants-in-Aid program is investing more than $4 million to fund 14 research teams to undertake studies into all types of cancer. Successful applicants are those whose projects are thought most likely to uncover major breakthroughs in prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. Dr Barker’s project is a prime example of innovative and risk-taking research, and will benefit those diagnosed with rare, low-survival cancer who currently have limited treatment options.”

Ms Spence also said these research projects are paving the way to favourable cancer outcomes for all.

“We are so delighted and value the opportunity to work with OCRF and the Victorian Government to fund this exciting new research. The results of this year’s projects have the potential to significantly impact how we detect and treat all types of cancer.”

OCRF CEO Lucinda Nolan said, “These types of partnerships allow the OCRF to bring funding into an area of ovarian cancer research that we might not otherwise be able to consider or fund.  We hope this is another step-change in improving the treatment and outcomes for women with ovarian cancer.”


To view a list of projects commencing in 2020, visit our Grants-in-Aid page.