The overall goal of the research conducted in the Thomas lab is to increase the survival of ovarian cancer patients by improving the understanding of the biology of this lethal disease. Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. and it is the most lethal gynecologic cancer. There are more than 20 FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Despite aggressive treatment, most patients experience disease recurrence and it is very rare for the disease to be cured. Indeed, there is an inverse correlation between ovarian cancer stage and the survival rate.
In the past several years, the understanding of the molecular basis of ovarian cancer has greatly improved and patients can be stratified for various treatment options, including chemotherapy and targeted therapies including PARP inhibitors based on the genomic profiles of their tumors. However, there is still a significant variability in patients’ response to treatment.
These researchers propose that stratifying ovarian cancer patients for treatment based on only their genomic profiles is a limited approach. Determining the protein signature of the ovarian cancer subtypes and establishing treatment responses based on these protein signatures will enhance treatment efficacy resulting in prolonged survival. Whereas the genome is a person’s biological blueprint, their proteome or protein profile is the functional biological manifestation of this blueprint. It is now possible to determine biological protein profiles with great analytical sensitivity.
The knowledge gained from determining the protein signatures of ovarian cancer subtypes will lead to the development of more efficacious therapies and improved patient survival.