Oncogene Offers Possibility of Predictive Test

They say that levels of the protein produced by this suspected oncogene, known as atypical protein kinase C iota (PKCi), in combination with a second protein, Cyclin E, strongly predict outcome in non-serous ovarian cancer, which accounts for 40 percent of ovarian cancer cases. They further report PKCi is over-expressed in serous ovarian cancer, which makes up the remaining 60 percent of ovarian cancer cases.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that PKCi as well as the second protein, Cyclin E, could be used as a powerful predictive test for non-serous ovarian cancer. They also say that an agent that inhibits PKCi might offer a novel therapy for both forms of the cancer, which is difficult to treat in advanced stages.

This study is the first to find that PKCi plays a role in ovarian cancer, says study's principal investigator Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., a professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics. He and the research team believe that over-expression of PKCi triggers excess production of Cyclin E, which is known to play a role in cancer growth. Researchers say that PKCi and Cyclin E together contribute to the aggressiveness of ovarian cancer because high levels of the protein are associated with reduced survival. "This is the strongest predictive combination of markers to determine behaviour of ovarian cancer yet found," Mills says.

Studying more than 400 tumour biopsies, they found PKCi over-expression in all samples of serous ovarian cancer, and that elevated levels of PKCi and Cyclin E corresponded to a worsening prognosis in women with non-serous ovarian cancer.

Specifically, researchers found that patients with non-serous ovarian cancer whose tumour samples showed low levels of the protein had a chance of long-term survival that was greater than 85 percent. But the chance of long-term survival in patients whose cancer showed high levels of both proteins fell to less than 15 percent.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center