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Precision screening tool for early diagnosis of ovarian and endometrial cancers developed through innovative partnerships
Together, ovarian and endometrial cancers represent the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Canadian women. Although more than 80% of these patients can be cured if their cancer is detected early, most women are only diagnosed after the cancer has spread throughout the body—at which point it is incurable. This devastating reality persists because available screening techniques lack the sensitivity and specificity to diagnose these cancers in the early stages of the disease. To combat the evasive nature of these cancers, Dr. Lucy Gilbert (Cancer Research Program) and her team have developed an innovative diagnostic tool that is redefining the way we detect ovarian and endometrial cancers.
A clinician-scientist and director of the Women’s Health Research Unit at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Dr. Gilbert spearheaded the development of a first-in-kind precision Pap test called DOvEEgene that is capable of “Detecting Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer Early using genomics.” To accomplish this remarkable feat, DOvEEgene evaluates a panel of specific genetic mutations that occur in the early stages of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
To transition DOvEEgene from the research laboratory into a clinical-grade diagnostic test, Dr. Gilbert worked in close collaboration with the RI-MUHC Business Development Office team directed by Costas Karatzas (PhD) and with Julie Quenneville, President and CEO of the MUHC Foundation, to establish scientific networks, commercial partnerships and secure financing. Through these interactions, Dr. Gilbert, in partnership with Optilab-MUHC and the launch of a $2 million campaign by the MUHC Foundation, was recently awarded a prestigious $6.24 million grant from Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). This funding will enable the bench-to-bedside transition of DOvEEgene into gynecology clinics, bringing DOvEEgene one step closer to saving the lives of thousands of women worldwide.