Multi-grant success for ovarian cancer research

Monday 01 June 2020

A new era of ovarian cancer research has begun, with Queensland studies receiving a record-breaking four out of eight grants awarded by the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Mater Research’s Professor John Hooper and his team have received a much-needed boost to their research into ovarian cancer.

“Two of the eight MRFF funded studies rely on Mater’s Ovarian Cancer Research Collaborative (MOCRC) for expertise, patient recruitment, and studies. This is a phenomenal testament to the spirit of the initiative. It’s a remarkable achievement that shines a light on consumer engagement and community partnerships in research,” said Professor Hooper. “I want to acknowledge the long-term support of ’Katherine’s High Tea’ and ’Cocktails for a Cure’ through Mater Foundation—without these wonderful people we’d have even further to go to get to better diagnostic tests and treatments for this cancer.”

“Our success means we can now continue to work on advancements in patient care during treatment, and efforts to develop improved early diagnostic tests to help increase the survival rates in ovarian cancer patients.”

Early diagnosis is key for the survival of women with ovarian cancer, as the symptoms often don’t present until the cancer is very advanced. 

“While it’s exciting to have received MRFF support, we know this is just the start in terms of improving outcomes for ovarian cancer patients. Mater clinicians have an essential role in pushing the various research teams to stay patient-focused to move their research towards clinical use—which can be challenging.”

A first study of its kind in humans, Professor Hooper’s research will test a new agent identifying its suitability in fighting epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). EOC is the most common type of ovarian tumour that develops in the lining of the ovaries, peritoneum and fallopian tubes.

It’s the patients who will benefit most from this success. Over 1600 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and this research will give hope to every one of these women and their families.

Ovarian cancer survivor Regina Sutton has overcome this disease twice. It is families like Regina’s who will benefit from renewed efforts to find a cure for ovarian cancer.

“I have gone through treatment twice for ovarian cancer and it’s a hard struggle. To see your family support you and help you through your most difficult time is something no one wants to go through—so hearing that Mater successfully received support from the government means that future research can help my family too,” Regina said.

“My daughter and my sister have recently been diagnosed with the same gene that I carry. The research done at Mater is so critical in saving more women's lives and helping the future of other family members who may have the gene and not yet be aware of it, and at some stage may be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer over four years ago at Mater Private Hospital, Regina has experienced many advances in ovarian cancer research. But the work is not yet finished.

Over the past decade, ovarian cancer research has been supported by Mater Foundation’s generous donors and supporters.

The new phase of the research journey for Professor Hooper begins June 2020.

In conjunction with The University of Queensland, The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the MRFF grants total more than $1.9 million, which will enable greater strides for advances in ovarian cancer.