New research suggests a woman’s likelihood of surviving ovarian cancer may be linked to two levels of two different proteins.
Women with high levels of both proteins had a median survival of 11 years compared with just over 2.6 years for those with low levels of both proteins, said study senior study author Dr. Anil K. Sood, a professor in gynecologic oncology and cancer biology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
More specifically, low levels of a protein called Dicer predicted poorer outcomes, the researchers found.
The findings can help predict survival and may also guide the way for new treatments of the disease in the future.
Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecologic cancers and the fifth leading cause of cancer among American women occurring in one of every 69 women. An estimated 20,000 American women will be diagnosed with the disease each year.
MicroRNA interference molecules help to regulate gene expression. Specifically, they can shut down genes and, as such, may represent a new avenue for treatment. MicroRNA regulates processes that are important for aspects of cell growth and that have provided insight in the mechanisms of human cancer.
The two enzymes highlighted in this study, Dicer (also named because it dices up RNA) and Drosha, are involved in two types of RNA interference.
Researchers analyzed the makeup of 111 ovarian cancer tumors, which were compared to patient’s clinical results. The outcome was supported by a separate analysis in a different group of 132 ovarian cancer patients.
Low levels of Dicer enzyme also predicted worse survival in breast and lung cancer patients; Drosha had less of an association in these cancers.
The study is published in the December 18 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. #