Ovarian cancer is relatively rare (~21,000 US diagnoses/year) but very fatal (5-year survival rate of 45%). Fortunately, patients diagnosed with early stage ovarian cancer when the disease is confined to the ovary have a five-year survival over 90% following conventional therapy. Thus, identifying ovarian cancer patients early is an important need for the gynecologic oncology community. Recent studies have shown that a combination of blood-based biomarkers and ultrasound imaging can be useful in identifying ovarian cancer patients, but this approach still lacks clinical specificity and sensitivity for population-wide use.
We are currently developing nanoparticles targeted to ovarian cancer cells will preferentially accumulate in the tumor and increase tumor signal more than conventional imaging. This will: a) increase the clinical sensitivity and specificity of screening, b) detect ovarian cancer patients earlier, and thus c) increase survival from this deadly disease.