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J Oncol. 2012;2012:737981. doi: 10.1155/2012/737981. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Optimizing molecular-targeted therapies in ovarian cancer: the renewed surge of interest in ovarian cancer biomarkers and cell signaling pathways.

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  • 1Molecular Oncology Research Laboratory, Department of Medical BioSciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville 7535, South Africa.


The hallmarks of ovarian cancer encompass the development of resistance, disease recurrence and poor prognosis. Ovarian cancer cells express gene signatures which pose significant challenges for cancer drug development, therapeutics, prevention and management. Despite enhancements in contemporary tumor debulking surgery, tentative combination regimens and abdominal radiation which can achieve beneficial response rates, the majority of ovarian cancer patients not only experience adverse effects, but also eventually relapse. Therefore, additional therapeutic possibilities need to be explored to minimize adverse events and prolong progression-free and overall response rates in ovarian cancer patients. Currently, a revival in cancer drug discovery is devoted to identifying diagnostic and prognostic ovarian cancer biomarkers. However, the sensitivity and reliability of such biomarkers may be complicated by mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, diverse genetic risk factors, unidentified initiation and progression elements, molecular tumor heterogeneity and disease staging. There is thus a dire need to expand existing ovarian cancer therapies with broad-spectrum and individualized molecular targeted approaches. The aim of this review is to profile recent developments in our understanding of the interrelationships among selected ovarian tumor biomarkers, heterogeneous expression signatures and related molecular signal transduction pathways, and their translation into more efficacious targeted treatment rationales.

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