Zooming in on Ovarian Cancer
The leading cause of death from gynecological cancer in North American women is epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). It is also the fifth most diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. Unfortunately, EOC doesn’t show symptoms in its early stages, meaning that patients often present EOC in later stages when treatment is no longer as effective.
As the Canada Research Chair in Proteomics and Cancer Research, Thomas Kislinger is developing an integrated systems biology approach to better understand the molecular mechanisms associated with early ovarian cancer. He uses a mass spectrometer to generate “snap-shots” of proteins present in ovarian cancer cells and tissues. These allow him to study the molecular processes that go wrong as EOC develops and progresses.
By combining proteomics—a branch of science that studies the location, molecular interactions, structure and function of proteins—with bioinformatics, Kislinger’s research represents a first, but crucial, step in developing a better understanding of ovarian cancer, as well as identifying markers in cells that indicate the onset of EOC, and in providing a much-needed way to detect it early on.
An important part of Kislinger’s research is his collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team called the Toronto Ovarian Cancer Research Network. The team is made up of clinical scientists and experts in bioinformatics, cancer biochemistry, molecular biology and pathology. Working with these people is allowing Kislinger to validate his findings faster so his work can be applied in a clinical setting sooner rather than later.