NIH grant to fund trailblazing ovarian cancer research
With a unique approach that draws on 3D printing technologies, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers is developing new tools for understanding how ovarian cancer develops in women. A $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the research.
Ovarian cancer is relatively rare; about 1.5 percent of American women will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. But it is difficult to detect in its early stages, which means doctors don’t usually diagnose ovarian cancer until late in the disease’s progression, after it has spread to other parts of the body. This is reflected in the grim outlook for most women with ovarian cancer: the five-year survival rate is about 25 percent.
Led by Paul Campagnola, a professor of biomedical engineering and medical physics at UW-Madison, the team aims to improve that outlook by understanding how ovarian cancer cells interact with nearby body tissue, and by developing new tools for imaging and detecting the disease. With the NIH funding, they’ll first use cutting-edge technologies they’ve developed on the UW-Madison campus to image tissues from surgical patients, with a keen eye on collagen.
“In most cancers, including ovarian, there are large changes in the collagen structure that goes along with the disease,” Campagnola says. “It might be first. It might be later. It’s actually not known.”
It’s one of the unknowns that Campagnola and his colleagues, including Kevin Eliceiri, director of UW-Madison’s Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI), and Manish Patankar, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, hope their research illuminates.
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