Moffitt Researcher Develops Genetic Fingerprints To Tailor Chemotherapy for Women With Ovarian Cancer

February 16, 2007

Tampa, FL– In the future, the survival of women with ovarian cancer may depend on the ability of doctors to match the right drug with the right patient. In the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Johnathan M. Lancaster, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-scientist at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute reports the identification of genetic signatures in ovarian cancers that predict which patients will and won’t respond to platinum chemotherapy.

“Hopefully this heralds a paradigm shift in the way we treat women with ovarian cancer. We must move away from a one size fits all approach and start to personalize therapy – selecting drugs based on the biology of the individual patient’s cancer,” said Lancaster, chief of the Division of Gynecologic Surgical Oncology.

In collaboration with researchers at Duke University, Lancaster’s team studied 119 ovarian cancer samples from patients with advanced-stage disease. They developed and tested gene expression profiles that discriminate between cancers that were sensitive or resistant to platinum-based therapy with greater than 80 percent accuracy. Importantly, in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, they were able to use the genomic signatures to identify alternative targeted treatment options. Lancaster believes this is a significant step toward personalized medicine.

“Genomic signatures may not only help us to identify who will and won’t respond to traditional chemotherapy, but may also reveal the Achilles’ heel of chemo-resistant cancers, such that we can adopt a more targeted approach to therapy for these patients,” he said. “I believe this represents one of the most exciting and promising areas of ovarian cancer research at the moment.”

More than 400,000 patients in the United States are treated with chemotherapy each year, but it’s rarely possible to pinpoint whether patients will respond to specific drugs. Until now, doctors used a trial and error approach. This new research is expected to lead to advances in targeted therapy for ovarian and other cancers. Clinical trials of genomic-directed therapy for ovarian cancer will soon open at Moffitt and Duke. For more information on clinical trials at Moffitt, call Sierra Theodore at (813) 745-7272.

About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Located in Tampa, Florida on the University of South Florida campus, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute ( is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 15 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Hospitals for cancer. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.