Ovarian Cancer Breakthrough: Tiny Protein, Big Impact

Hudson Institute

Increasingly, cancer treatments focus on harnessing the body’s own resources – the innate immune system – but one cancer has proven more elusive than most.

Nearly half of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer lose their lives within five years and there have been no new effective treatments for more than half a century.

Ovarian cancer survival rates are well below the average for all cancers because

  • The disease is often not detected until the advanced stages, when the cancer has metastasised
  • Chemotherapy typically becomes ineffective over time.

Metastasis is the ultimate cause of death for most ovarian cancer patients – and where new treatments are desperately needed.

IFNε: a formidable foe

While other cancers have responded to evolving treatments, such as immunotherapy, ovarian cancer remains a formidable foe. New treatments are desperately needed, which makes the work of Professor Paul Hertzog and Dr Nicole Campbell so much more compelling.

Their research, published in the esteemed journal, Nature, showed that the innate immune system produces a powerful weapon against ovarian cancer, interferon epsilon (IFNε), a weapon just waiting to be harnessed to deliver an effective immunotherapy treatment option.

“The results of this study were striking. IFNε stops the spread of secondary ovarian cancer by instructing immune cells to target and kill the cancer cells involved,” Dr Campbell said.

/Public Release. View in full here.