Developing new treatments for low-grade serous ovarian cancer

The main aim of this project, led by Professor Charlie Gourley, is to develop new, more effective and targeted treatments for low-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Low-grade serous ovarian cancer is less common than the high-grade form, and affects around 700 women each year in the UK.

While most cases of ovarian cancer occur in women of 60 years or more in age, low-grade serous ovarian cancer tends to affect younger women – in their 40s – and is often resistant to chemotherapy. Since it is less common, much less research has been carried out on this type of ovarian cancer. This means that few treatment options exist and therefore there is an urgent need to develop new approaches.

This new project will build on the work of a landmark clinical trial in recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer known as the LOGS trial, led by Professor Gourley and colleagues from the USA. Patients in this trial receiving a drug called trametinib (MEKINIST®) experienced a substantially improved response compared with standard chemotherapy treatment. It even reduced the chance of the cancer coming back again. It is hoped that the results from the LOGS trial could lead to trametinib becoming a new, targeted treatment for women with low-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Professor Gourley is one of the world's foremost ovarian cancer researchers and has significant expertise in studying low grade serous ovarian cancer. The results from the LOGS trial represent a huge step forward for women with low grade serous ovarian cancer, but it was clear that some people on the trial responded well to trametinib, while others did not. A key aim of our new research is to identify how the tumours differ in these two groups of women, and how this influences their response to treatment. This new knowledge will inform the development of more effective treatments, targeted to the specific type of tumour that each person has.