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University of Houston researcher an author of multi-institutional genetic study of ovarian cancer
Date:7/8/2011

A University of Houston researcher is an author on a landmark multi-institutional genetic study of the most aggressive and common form of ovarian cancer that is published in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature. Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States.

The genome sequencing study, which was conducted by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) research network, provides the first comprehensive genetic overview of ovarian cancer, showing the changes that turn normal ovarian cells into deadly tumors that are highly resistant to chemotherapy. Researchers discovered that the ovarian cancer genome is overwhelmingly characterized by mutations in one gene and few other common mutations, but it also has frequent structural changes, indicating that those mutations are significant to the cancer's development.

Preethi Gunaratne, an assistant professor in UH's department of biology and biochemistry, is an author of the study, which is the largest such project to date conducted by TCGA, a network of institutions funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institute of Health. Two other Houston institutions, Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson Cancer Center, also participated in the study, along with a number of others across the nation.

The findings could lead to better treatments for ovarian cancer, which claims the lives of nearly 14,000 women in the U.S. every year and is often not diagnosed until it's in an advanced stage.

"Ovarian cancer has been very difficult to treat. It has been very resistant to even the most advanced chemotherapy cocktails," Gunaratne said.

Gunaratne, along with Dr. Neil Hayes at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina and Dr. Douglas Levine at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCCC), spearheaded the analysis of microRNAs, a class of tiny genetic m
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Contact: Laura Tolley
ljtolley@uh.edu
713-743-0778
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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