LLRF board members with a researcher in a laboratory.

The LLRF board and I recently had the pleasure of meeting with some of the research team working on the projects that the foundation is supporting, and I would like to share some information about the research we are helping to fund at the University of South Australia.

Funds raised are going to two research projects, both of which align with our goal to fund innovative Ovarian Cancer research aimed at saving women’s lives through early detection and personalised cancer treatment.

The Autoantibody Project

The first project is the “Autoantibody Project”, and will build on previous research to assist in establishing an early detection test for Ovarian Cancer, lead by Prof Dr Peter Hoffmann and Prof Martin K. Oehler. This research aims find an early detection test for Ovarian Cancer, which can be used as a population screening test. This promising research has been underway for over 10 years, however it had run out of funding, a problem all to frequently encountered, even by the most promosing of research projects.

The test checks for an Autoantibody to proteins specific to Ovarian Cancer, combined with CA 125 blood test. The presence of certain levels of this specific Autoantibody and CA 125 form the basis of the screening test.

The test has been trialed on 320 patients, including healthy, benign, early stage (stage1) and late-stage patients from Australia, Sweden, Canada and Germany. The Autoantibody test has also been independently tested in a lab in China on a cohort of Chinese patients, which confirmed the precision and reproducibility of the test.

This early detection test for Ovarian Cancer is very promising and needs the injection of funds that we have provided to further refine the test in the laboratory before moving to random population testing across major sites in Australia. It will ultimately need a larger injection of funds to continue however, for now we have helped it move forward and hope to be able to raise funds to further assist the development of this important project through this years Adelaide Silver Style and donations.

The Patient-Derived Sample Testing Project

The other research project we are supporting is called the “Patient-Derived Sample Testing, Using Organoid Technology” led by Dr Manuela Klingler-Hoffmann.

This research looks at improving first line chemotherapy treatment for women with Ovarian Cancer by identifying the best currently approved and available chemotherapy drugs for the individual patient. Patient derived cells will be grown in the laboratory, and then tested against a small panel of different chemotherapy agents to determine which drug has the best kill rate against the patient’s tumour cells. First tests included the development of a small scale testing kit, containing multiple chemotherapy agents and combinations thereof.

Currently, first line treatment for patients with Ovarian Cancer has barely changed in the last 30 years. Whilst it is effective in most patients initially, it has a very high rate of recurrence over time. The development of more directed, personalised treatment is needed to increase the chances of patient survival. We are delighted to be helping this project to the next step and again will be looking to raise more funds to continue this very important research.

Author: Madelyn Duckmanton

Madelyn is the Chair of the Letitia Linke research foundation. After losing her daughter, Letitia Linke, to Ovarian Cancer, she has continued Letitia’s work to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer and generate funds to support research into an early detection test.