- Ovarian cancer is the sixth most frequent cancer amongst women. Around 3300 cases are diagnosed every year in Spain, representing 5.1% of female cancers.
- Developed countries such as Spain present a higher incidence, which is on the increase.
- This tumour is usually associated with middle age: most cases are diagnosed in the second half of a woman’s lifespan. However, there is a significant number of cases diagnosed after the age of 30, and it is not infrequent to diagnose tumours in young women from the age of 15.
- Ovarian cancer has a high mortality rate, 60% rate at five years. This is the highest mortality rate after lung, breast and colon cancer. The reason for this is that there is currently no early diagnosis method, and therefore up to 75% of cases appear in advanced stages when the tumour has already expanded. The five-year survival rate is 20%-30%.
The aim of this project is to study ligands and receptors from the ErbB/HER family, from among the four receptors of growth factors which have been shown to have a therapeutic implication, and assess whether a therapeutic benefit can be achieved using drugs addressed for these purposes.
We have studied the presence of the four HER receptors and other receptor tyrosine kinases in samples of ovarian cancer tumours taken from the tumour banks of Albacete University Hospital and Salamanca University Hospital.
After assessing 16 tumours, it has been observed that the most frequently expressed receptors were those in the ErbB family, including HER2, HER3 and EGFR. Phosphorylation of PDGFRalfa, FGFR2, FAK, VEGFR1 and RET2 was also observed, as shown in the following chart. Our preliminary data show the importance of ErbB receptors in ovarian cancer.
Similarly, we observed that the same tumour could show the activation of different receptors, as shown in the following chart. For example, the samples BT-317B, A, BT-350 and BT-13424 show several activated receptors. Please note that the majority of these receptors are from the ErbB family, and that several of them were activated within the same tumour.