2001 Individual Investigator Grant Recipient – Paul Cairns

Paul Cairns, Ph.D.
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Novel Approaches for Early Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

Project Summary

Genetic alterations are very promising markers for molecular diagnosis and prognosis because they can precede obvious cancer and are highly specific. They can also be detected by PCR, a technique for generating large quantities of DNA from small amounts of a DNA sample, and can potentially provide diagnostic and prognostic information simultaneously. In his project, Dr. Cairns plans to examine the feasibility of molecular detection of ovarian cancer in two bodily fluids, peritoneal fluid and serum, which can contain cancer cell DNA. The main drawback of using peritoneal fluid for molecular diagnosis in high-risk women (familial ovarian cancer) is that it can only be obtained by a semi-invasive procedure. Serum, however, contains cancer cell DNA and is readily accessible in all individuals from a peripheral blood sample. Dr. Cairns will use two promising DNA-based detection approaches, through which primary ovarian tumors will be screened for these cancer-specific genetic alterations. A finding of the identical alteration in the matching peritoneal fluid and serum will indicate the presence of neoplastic cell DNA in the bodily fluid. Results may lead to a new non-invasive test for ovarian cancer and improve how and when women are diagnosed with the disease.

This project was made possible by a generous grant from the Entertainment Industry Foundation/Revlon Run/Walk for Women Los Angeles.