Research by Allegheny Health Network Physician Finds Test Developed Locally Accurately Predicts Women’s Response to Platinum-Based Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Updated on July 11, 2013

Research led by an Allegheny Health Network physician confirms that a test designed by a local company accurately predicts which women will not respond to standard platinum-based chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, allowing these women to receive more effective, targeted therapies earlier in the course of this insidious disease.

Research led by Thomas C. Krivak, M.D, Assistant Director of Gynecologic Oncology and Director Clinical Research in Gynecologic Oncology at West Penn Allegheny Health System supported the ChemoFx® chemoresponse assay, designed by Precision Therapeutics of Pittsburgh, as a tool to aid in the identification of platinum resistance in primary ovarian cancer.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of The Western Association of Gynecologic Oncologists (WAGO) in Seattle, Washington.

Carboplatin/paclitaxel (platinum-based) combination therapy is the standard of care in treating women with primary ovarian cancer. While most women will initially respond to first-line treatment, the vast majority will eventually relapse. Platinum status is classified at the time of relapse and aids in determining future prognosis and subsequent treatment strategies.

In this observational, multi-site study, 276 patients diagnosed as primary, stage III or IV ovarian, peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer were treated with carboplatin/paclitaxel following tumor-reduction surgery. Association of progression-free survival with ChemoFx® assay results for carboplatin or paclitaxel was analyzed individually and jointly. Tumors that were resistant to carboplatin in an in vitro (laboratory) setting, were associated with an increased risk of disease progression compared to those that were sensitive, which was independent of other clinical factors. A similar trend was also observed in patients that showed in vitro resistance to both carboplatin and paclitaxel.

“The results of this study answer the clinical question of whether ChemoFx can identify platinum-resistant/refractory primary ovarian patients,” said Dr. Krivak. “Determining the platinum status of a patient earlier in the disease may help in the selection of the most effective treatment upfront, with minimal exposure to ineffective and often intolerable therapy. Additionally, having a better understanding of the tumor and chemotherapy resistance could justify the use of bevacizumab or other targeted agents.”

“Determining platinum status earlier in primary ovarian cancer may prevent this high-risk group of patients from being exposed to multiple cycles of ineffective therapy and allow for more effective alternate therapeutic options earlier in disease, with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes,” Dr. Krivak said.

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