Press Release: Funding From the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation Leads to Understanding of Link between Proteins and Survival in Women with Ovarian Cancer

Chicago, December 18, 2008—A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how the levels of two proteins are linked to the likelihood of survival in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A similar association is found in both lung and breast cancers.

“Dicer, Drosha, and Outcome in Patients with Ovarian Cancer,” authored by a research team of gynecologic oncologists from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, discusses the impact of the levels of two proteins, Dicer and Drosha, that are key to a cell’s gene-silencing machinery, on median survival for ovarian cancer patients. Patients with high levels of Dicer and Drosha had a median survival of 11 years compared to women with low levels of either or both proteins, whose median survival was 2.66 years.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) provided some of the initial funding for the science that led to this observation and its impact on potential RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapeutics. In 2005, Dr. Robert L. Coleman one of the study’s authors, was awarded the GCF/Florence & Marshall Schwid Ovarian Cancer Award for his study, “Therapeutic Gene Silencing with siRNA in Ovarian Carcinoma” which studied the clinical relevance of these proteins in ovarian cancer patients, as well as their role in RNAi-based gene silencing. The first author of the study published today, Dr. William M. Merritt, mentored by Dr. Anil Sood, the paper’s senior author, received the GCF/Carol’s Cause Award for the outstanding paper by a resident or fellow at the 2007 Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

“We hope, as a result of this new knowledge, to be able to utilize the levels to these two proteins to guide treatment decisions and, eventually, to create a delivery mechanism that permits RNA interference to attack tumors directly,” Dr. Coleman stated.

“The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation is pleased to have been able to provide funding for the science that enabled this breakthrough in understanding the role of these two proteins in ovarian cancer outcomes,” said Dr. Karl C. Podratz, GCF Chairman. “Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. These research findings are another important step in our quest to prolong the lives of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” he continued.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation provides information on the leading types of cancer including gynecologic cancers—ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. Visit to read about cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer survivor stories and gather additional information on cancer statistics, graphs and charts, as well as clinical trials for cancer and new cancer treating drugs.

GCF urges women who suspect or have been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer to seek care first from a gynecologic oncologist. For more information, visit GCF’s Women’s Cancer Network at

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) is a national medical specialty society for physicians trained in the comprehensive management of women’s cancers. The Society’s membership, totaling more than 1230, is primarily comprised of gynecologic oncologists—obstetrician/gynecologists with three-four years of additional, intensive training in the specific study of gynecologic cancers. SGO members provide medical and surgical care to women with ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, vulvar cancer, and vaginal cancer. They are trained in chemotherapy and radiation therapy administration, supportive care, and surgery in order to provide comprehensive patient care. More information on gynecologic oncology, the SGO, and its members can be found at


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