Contact Us
Funding Research and Awareness for Ovarian Cancer

Previously Funded Research

Funding Research to Find a Cure

Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation has been raising money since 2000 to fund research and help to find a cure for ovarian cancer. Here is some of the previously funded research.


2014 KOH Grants Awarded

 

Michael Goldberg, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University

Synergistic immunotherapy for improved treatment of ovarian cancer

 
The majority of therapeutic approaches in ovarian cancer focus on killing tumor cells through the action of drugs that are often toxic. While chemotherapy and radiation have devastating side effects, the greater concern associated with these strategies is the difficulty of eradicating 100% of the cancerous cells. Many patients relapse because the original treatments did not eliminate all of the cancer cells, and those remaining cells are then able to establish new tumors that are resistant to the previously effective drugs. One way to overcome this inherent struggle is to consider an alternative approach: to take advantage of the patient’s immune system. Indeed, immune cell infiltration into tumors is among the best predictors of ovarian cancer patient outcomes.
 
If the immune system recognizes ovarian cancer cells as unhealthy, it will attempt to kill them. Such killing is independent of the underlying mutations, which vary from patient to patient, and is hence expected to confer benefit to all ovarian cancer patients. A simple way of thinking about the difference between traditional therapy and immunotherapy is to compare the short-term relief against pain provided by aspirin with the life-long protection against polio provided by a vaccine. This ability to induce a memory response represents a potentially curative strategy.
 
Frustratingly, tumors have adapted ways to evade immune cells and to suppress the function of immune cells. These adaptions have been shown to be particularly important factors contributing to poor prognoses among ovarian cancer patients. Excitingly, emerging clinical evidence reveals that inhibiting these pathways can provide curative responses to some patients. To increase the percentage of ovarian cancer patients who establish durable responses, we will combine two classes of therapeutics that individually benefit ovarian cancer patients. We hypothesize that the complementary mechanism of actions of these classes of therapeutics – increasing the ability of immune cells both to recognize and to kill cancer cells – will result in synergistic responses against tumors, and we thus seek to identify the optimal combination of these drugs.
 
Dr. Goldberg’s primary career goal in ovarian cancer research is to contribute to a cure for ovarian cancer through stimulation of the potent and specific natural antitumor immune response. Like too many, Dr. Goldberg has been affected personally by ovarian cancer, losing his godmother and girlfriend’s mother to this horrible disease. He is highly motivated to ensure that others do not share this experience in the future. His lab works tirelessly in the pursuit of novel drug combinations that address not only cancer cells but also the other cells in the tumor, most notably immune cells. The immune system provides an adaptive response to evolving cancers.
 
The research plan described herein will support Dr. Goldberg in attaining these goals by enabling generation of key data to extend his laboratory’s preliminary findings and by providing access to invaluable mentorship. Finally, this proposal is well aligned with the Kaleidoscope of Hope’s mission of supporting young investigators with potential to make significant impact on current treatment of ovarian cancer and patient survival – adding years rather than months, with a potential to cure ovarian cancers.
 
 

Laura Dillon, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
University of Virginia, School of Medicine

Differential Generation of MicroDNA in OvarianCancer


Synergistic immunotherapy for improved treatment of ovarian cancerDNA is the master code for all processes in the cell, and advances in the sequencing of
this code have revealed variations among individuals. Recently, small circular pieces of DNA, called microDNA, were discovered in our tissues and are generated by “popping out” of linear DNA from chromosomes, leaving small deletions in the DNA code. These microDNAs are most likely formed due to errors in normal DNA repair processes. Cancer forms due to alterations in a cell’s DNA code, often the result of improper DNA repair as well. Therefore, it is highly likely that microDNA generation may be altered in cancer. In this proposal, we will determine if the generation of microDNA is cancerspecific, particularly in the context of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is a difficult to detect cancer due to the location of the ovaries inside a woman’s body, resulting in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer often at late stages. The discovery of ovarian cancerspecific microDNA would provide a new biomarker of ovarian cancer that could be utilized in blood-based screening assays for the early detection of ovarian cancer.  Furthermore, since microDNAs have been observed in all tissues examined, these
screening assays could be translated to other types of cancer as well. We will directly test the possibility of microDNA as a blood-based ovarian cancer  biomarker through the examination of patient tumor and plasma samples and an in vitro malignant transformation model. Finally, the novel discovery of microDNAs has raised many questions regarding the mechanism of microDNA formation and its role in the cell and  carcinogenesis. We will also examine how common mutations found in ovarian cancer and chemotherapy treatment can effect microDNA generation. Together, these studies begin to answer many important questions and lay the foundation for future studies as well.


 

2014 Grant Recipient for Continued Funding:

George Preti, PhD
Monell Chemical Senses Center

 A NOVEL APPROACH TO OVARIAN CANCER:
SCREENING USING AN INTERDISCIPIPLINARY INVESTIGATION OF ITS VOLATILE SIGNATURE


Recent literature suggests that volatile organic compounds (VOC) or odorants are altered in the earliest stages of cancer even before the cancer can be detected with currently available imaging devices. These odorants remain a relatively untapped source for cancer detection information. Research has shown that minute quantities of odorants can be detected using trained detection dogs and electronic devices, as well as identified using analytical analyses providing a sensitive target for early cancer detection. We propose a new method of screening for ovarian cancer using analysis of odorants which has great potential in decreasing future cancer deaths.

We have a strong history of examining human odors produced on or in different parts of the body from both healthy individuals and those with documented pathologies. We hypothesize that the odorants emanating from ovarian tissue will change with the onset of cancer-related metabolism and will provide a reliable, detectable substrate for early detection, allowing more effective treatment. Our hypothesis is further supported by recent studies that suggest that canine olfaction can (a) distinguish normal ovarian epithelial tissue from ovarian epithelial carcinoma (b) distinguish blood samples from healthy women from those women with ovarian cancer and (c) demonstrate that ovarian epithelial carcinoma has a different, distinguishable odor profile from other cancers of the reproductive tract.

Early successes have also been achieved using electronic sensors (artificial noses) to distinguish the volatile organic compounds in cancer patients from controls. To detect this distinctive odorant signature, the proposed collaborative research will employ a multimodal approach including canine olfaction, as well as other analytical tools. Pilot research will evaluate and compare the ability of canine and other sensors to detect the total odorant signatures of serum samples in ovarian cancer versus controls. We also aim to identify the odorants that distinguish disease from healthy samples. Future studies will determine the most suitable tissue substrate to evaluate (serum, vaginal secretions, urine or exhaled air), and measure odor differences among various tumor grades, stages or BRCA mutation status.

We posit that just as the study of echolocation in bats and dolphins lead to the development of sonar and diagnostic ultrasound, we hypothesize that the study of disease-detecting olfaction in dogs can facilitate the development of nanotechnology-based olfactory sensors (e-noses). Data from our proposed study will allow us to begin the translation of these findings to the development of a device that can reliably detect ovarian cancer at an early, treatable stage in the doctor’s office.

 




2013 Grant Recipient:  Hebert Alberto Vargas, MD  and Britta Weigelt, PhD:
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Benchmarking Intra-Tumor Heterogeneity in Ovarian Cancer:

Linking In-Vivo Imaging Phenotypes with Histology and GenomicsPictured Above, Left to RIght, Hebert Alberto Vargas MD, Evis Sala MD PhD (Mentor), Britta Weigelt PhD, Robert A Soslow MD (Mentor)

High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) accounts for up to 80% of the 26,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the United States. HGSOC is an aggressive disease and is associated with poor outcomes (5-year survival rates of approximately 30%). The standard treatment for patients with HGSOC is surgery and chemotherapy. For reasons that are not completely understood, chemotherapy is not effective in all patients (i.e. some tumors are unresponsive or “resistant” to chemotherapy treatment), and in some cases patients who were initially responsive to chemotherapy treatment subsequently develop resistance. Microscopic analysis of tumor samples obtained during surgery has shown that HGSOCs are not homogeneous but that their appearance varies in different areas of the tumor, a phenomenon called “intra-tumor heterogeneity”. Furthermore, there is evidence emerging that this intra-tumor heterogeneity is not only evident on features visible under the microscope, but is also present at the genetic level and that different regions of the tumor may harbor different genetic alterations, such as mutations. The extent of this intra-tumor heterogeneity has been suggested to play a role in resistance of HGSOCs to chemotherapy treatment, and the ability of these tumors to spread to different parts of the body. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] and positron emission tomography [PET] for detecting and assessing ovarian cancers become increasingly more sensitive and advanced. Interestingly, also by imaging heterogeneity within ovarian tumors can be observed. Because imaging can be obtained before surgery, and with minimal intrusion, discomfort or risks to the patient (only a small injection in a vein in the arm is needed), we hypothesize that if the intra-tumor heterogeneity observed by imaging mirrors the intra-tumor heterogeneity in the tumor samples by microscopic or genetic analysis obtained after surgery, then imaging may provide a non-invasive method for the quantification of the intra-tumor heterogeneity at the genetic level.

AIMS:
The purpose of this study is to define whether intra-tumor heterogeneity as visualized on standard non-invasive imaging studies obtained before surgery (e.g. magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] and positron emission tomography [PET]) matches intra-tumor heterogeneity observed when analyzing tumor samples under the microscope (histological intratumor heterogeneity) or at the genetic level (genetic intra-tumor heterogeneity).


2014 and 2013 Grant Recipient:  George Preti, PhD
Monell Chemical Senses Center 

A NOVEL APPROACH TO OVARIAN CANCER:
SCREENING USING AN INTERDISCIPIPLINARY INVESTIGATION OF ITS VOLATILE SIGNATURE

Recent literature suggests that volatile organic compounds (VOC) or odorants are altered in the earliest stages of cancer even before the cancer can be detected with currently available imaging devices. These odorants remain a relatively untapped source for cancer detection information. Research has shown that minute quantities of odorants can be detected using trained detection dogs and electronic devices, as well as identified using analytical analyses providing a sensitive target for early cancer detection. We propose a new method of screening for ovarian cancer using analysis of odorants which has great potential in decreasing future cancer deaths.

We have a strong history of examining human odors produced on or in different parts of the body from both healthy individuals and those with documented pathologies. We hypothesize that the odorants emanating from ovarian tissue will change with the onset of cancer-related metabolism and will provide a reliable, detectable substrate for early detection, allowing more effective treatment. Our hypothesis is further supported by recent studies that suggest that canine olfaction can (a) distinguish normal ovarian epithelial tissue from ovarian epithelial carcinoma (b) distinguish blood samples from healthy women from those women with ovarian cancer and (c) demonstrate that ovarian epithelial carcinoma has a different, distinguishable odor profile from other cancers of the reproductive tract.

Early successes have also been achieved using electronic sensors (artificial noses) to distinguish the volatile organic compounds in cancer patients from controls. To detect this distinctive odorant signature, the proposed collaborative research will employ a multimodal approach including canine olfaction, as well as other analytical tools. Pilot research will evaluate and compare the ability of canine and other sensors to detect the total odorant signatures of serum samples in ovarian cancer versus controls. We also aim to identify the odorants that distinguish disease from healthy samples. Future studies will determine the most suitable tissue substrate to evaluate (serum, vaginal secretions, urine or exhaled air), and measure odor differences among various tumor grades, stages or BRCA mutation status.

We posit that just as the study of echolocation in bats and dolphins lead to the development of sonar and diagnostic ultrasound, we hypothesize that the study of disease-detecting olfaction in dogs can facilitate the development of nanotechnology-based olfactory sensors (e-noses). Data from our proposed study will allow us to begin the translation of these findings to the development of a device that can reliably detect ovarian cancer at an early, treatable stage in the doctor’s office.



2012 Grant Recipient Alison Karst, PhD
Research Fellow
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute(left, shown with collaborating physician Ronny Drapkin)

CHARACTERIZATION OF GAB2 IN SEROUS OVARIAN CANCER.

In recent years, researchers have found that the deadliest type of ovarian cancer, high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC), may not actually arise in the ovary, but rather in the fallopian tube. Since the fallopian tube lies immediately next to the ovary, it is thought that these tumors often spread to the ovary long before they are diagnosed and therefore appear to be ovarian in origin. My research project will study this hypothesis and determine whether a gene known as “GAB2” promotes the development of fallopian tube-derived ovarian cancer. We recently identified GAB2 as an oncogene by screening ~600 genes known to be altered in HGSOC for their ability to transform normal ovarian cells into cancer. We now seek to determine whether GAB2 can similarly transform fallopian tube cells. To do this, we will introduce GAB2 into normal human fallopian tube cells, obtained from patients, and test whether the cells become malignant, acquiring the ability to form tumors. We will also analyze samples of fallopian tubes that were removed from patients diagnosed with HGSOC and found to contain tumors at various stages of development. Analysis of these samples will enable us to determine at which stage of fallopian tube tumor development GAB2 abnormalities occur. We will also study a large collection of HGSOC samples from women who have been treated for ovarian cancer to determine whether GAB2 gene expression is linked to chemotherapy resistance and patient survival. If we find that GAB2 plays a major role in fallopian-tube derived ovarian cancer, it may prove to be a promising therapeutic target and lead to improved treatments for HGSOC.


2012 Grant Recipient Roisin O’Cearbhaill, MD:
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Adjuvant WT1 Analog Peptide Vaccine
 

The purpose of this research is to study a vaccine treatment for patients with ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer that has returned after initial treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. We want to see if the vaccine boosts the immune system and if it can delay the cancer from coming back. A vaccine is a medicine that teaches the immune system in the body to destroy harmful infections or other things that do not belong in our normal tissues. Many researchers believe that boosting the immune system may have some effect in treating cancer. We want to see if we can help the immune system to recognize that cancer cells are not normal and should be removed. The vaccine in this study contains an antigen or a type of “fingerprint” called Wilms Tumor-1 (WT-1). WT-1 is found on many cancer cells, especially from the ovaries, fallopian tubes or peritoneal cavity (inside lining of abdomen). Other similar vaccines have been tested in people with different types of cancers. This WT-1 vaccine has already been studied in patients with lung cancer and has shown promise in helping the immune system to make antibodies against WT-1. The hope is that by giving a series of injections of this vaccine under the skin that it will help patients to make antibodies against WT-1 and then that these antibodies would travel around the body and help the immune system to work to control or maybe even eliminate the remaining cancer cells.


Pictured Above, Left to RIght, Katherine Diaz-MacInnis research
study assistant; Krysten Soldan RN; Roisin O'Cearbhaill MD; Paul Sabbatini MD;
Jianda Yuan MD; PhD David Scheinberg MD, PhD.



2012 Grant Recipient Brian M. Slomovitz, MD:

Director of Research for the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center
Associate Director of the Women's Cancer Center

 

Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial- Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer in low risk women. Each year in the United States, more than 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 15,000 women die of the disease. Ovarian Cancer is particularly hard to diagnose and is referred to as the “silent cancer”. For this reason, it is most often discovered very late in the cancer’s development and therefore has a remarkably high fatality rate. Developing a method to screen women and identify ovarian tumors earlier is essential to improving survival rates. For the 25% of the ovarian cancers that are found early, the 5 year survival rate is greater than 90%.

Dr. Slomovitz attended graduate school at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, medical school at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and received postgraduate training in Gynecologic Oncology at University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Slomovitz is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology. He has published in various scientific journals, including Gynecologic Oncology, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Cancer Research and is the author of several book chapters. His areas of research include clinical trials for ovarian and endometrial cancer, molecular targeted therapeutics, and advances in minimally invasive and robotic surgery. He serves as principal investigator for several clinical trials. He has written and led several investigator initiated clinical trials in collaboration with colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center. On a national level, Dr. Slomovitz is an active member of the Gynecologic Oncology Group where he is a member of the endometrial cancer committee. He is also active with the Society of Gynecologic Oncology where he serves on the Membership Committee.

Dr. Slomovitz was born in Bayonne, NJ and grew up in Westfield and is a graduate of Westfield High School. He has been married to PJ (short for Philippa) for 11 years and they have 3 children, Sadie, Eli, and Annie.


2011 Award Recipient Dr. Andrea K. McCollum

PRAT Research Fellow
Medical Oncology Branch
Molecular Signaling Section
National Cancer Institute

is a senior postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Elise Kohn at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. McCollum is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine where she completed her Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics under the mentorship of Drs. Charles Erlichman and Scott Kaufmann. Her thesis work identified a novel mechanism of resistance to inhibitors of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), which are currently being tested for antitumor activity in clinical trials. She then came to the National Cancer Institute as a postdoctoral fellow to pursue translational studies focusing on novel prognostic biomarkers and molecular targets for ovarian cancer therapeutics. At NCI, Dr. McCollum has mentored several graduate, postbaccalaureate and summer students, and has been chosen as an instructor for the NIH Summer Student Enrichment Program. Her passion for research has been recognized through her selection for the 2007 Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowship for Women in Cancer Research and, in 2009, the prestigious Pharmacology Research Associate Training (PRAT) Fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. She currently serves as a postdoctoral liaison to the Women Scientist Advisors of NIH, and was the 2011 host for the National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting. Dr. McCollum’s future plans include establishing an independent research program that will contribute to the development and refinement of innovative therapies for ovarian cancer patients
 

2011 Award Recipient Dr. David Hyman

 

Gynecologic Medical Oncology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York


Patients with ovary, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer whose cancer has returned after treatment are often treated with a chemotherapy called carboplatin. Many women will develop an allergy to this medication. When this happens, patients may have to stop getting this medication even if it is helping to treat their cancer. The allergy can also be dangerous or even life threatening.
A review of patients with ovarian cancer treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with carboplatin over 3-hours suggests that they may have fewer allergic reactions then those given the same medication over 30-minutes. However, these patients were more likely to have gotten additional medications before chemotherapy that may reduce the chance of allergy (“premedications”). It is not clear if premedications, 3-hour carboplatin, or both caused the decrease in allergic reactions.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether giving carboplatin over 3-hours instead of over 30-minutes can decrease the chance of having an allergic reaction. Patients will be randomized to receive carboplatin one of these two ways. All patients will get premedications before chemotherapy. The main goal of this study will be to determine the rate of allergic reactions in each group. An additional goal will be to see how many patients in each group successfully complete at least 5 cycles of chemotherapy. We will also try to determine how costly it is to prevent an allergic reaction. Finally we will try and develop a way to predict who is at highest risk for becoming allergic to carboplatin.
The results of this study will help guarantee that women with ovarian cancer continue to the best chemotherapy for their disease, carboplatin, as long as it is continuing to treat their cancer.
 

2010 Award Recipient Lacey R. McNally, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Radiation Oncology
University of Alabama Birmingham

(Pictured at Left, KOH Board Member, Dee Sparacio, presents the Young Investigator Award to Lacey R. McNally, PhD.)

Treatment of Ovarian Cancer with KiSS1 Metastasis Suppressor
Treating ovarian cancer metastasis is critical because of the high frequency nature in which it spreads. The KiSS1 gene, a metastasis suppressor, greatly reduces metastatic ovarian cancer. Ms. McNally and her fellow researchers believe that treating existing tumors with KiSS1 will prevent metastatic growth and, when given in combination with chemotherapy, will result in increased survival.

Sarah Adams, MD
Assistant Professor
Ovarian Cancer Research Center
University of Pennsylvania

(Pictured: KOH Board Member, Carole Fagella presents the Young Investigator Award to Sarah Adams, MD.)

Characterization of the Enhanced Anti-Tumor Activity of Doxil in Women with Hereditary Ovarian Cancer
This research is designed to determine whether women with hereditary ovarian cancer exhibit markedly improved responses to Doxil chemotherapy because of enhanced anti-tumor response. If this project is successful, it would support testing women for BRCA mutations to better select chemotherapeutic or immunotherapeutic protocols for disease management.


2010 - Founders’ Award

The Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation Founders’ Award is given each year to the group or organization that best embraces the cause of fighting ovarian cancer or exhibits the commitment to find a cure.
The 2010  Founders’ Award winners are the Jersey Shore Girls: Janice Carey, Mariclaire Scott, and Kathy Lynch. The Jersey Shore Girls contacted KOH in 2007 to spearhead a walkathon in Avon-by-the-Sea to honor their dear friend, Valerie O’Rourke Foley, who, earlier that year, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. With just a few months to plan, the girls held their first walk on September 29, 2007, with more than 600 walkers. They raised $62,000

KOH Executive Director, Lois Myers, presents the Founders' Award to the Jersey Shore Girls: Janice Carey, Mariclaire Scott, and Kathy Lynch.KOH Executive Director, Lois Myers, presents the Founders' Award to the Jersey Shore Girls
Pictured above Left to Right:  Maria Cammarata (KOH Board Member, Treasurer, Janice Carey, Mariclaire Scott, and Kathy Lynch. Lois Myers)


2009 Award Winners

Spring Gala Award Winners: Researching for a Cure

KOH presents several awards each year at their annual Spring Gala. In 2009, board members presented $200,000 worth of grants and awards.
 

The Young Investigator Award
Maureen Phair, former KOH vice president, presented the Young Investigator Award to Selvendiran Karuppaiyah, PhD, a Research Scientist from Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at The Ohio State University for his continuing research into safe, targeted antitumor therapeutics (STAT3 inhibitors) for ovarian cancer.

General Award
Carole Fagella, KOH Secretary, presented an award to Janet A. Sawicki, PhD, Professor and Principal Investigator at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. The grant will help support development of a new therapy for advanced ovarian cancer based on a reduction in the amount of a protein called claudin-3 found at abnormally high levels in 90% of ovarian tumors.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) / Gail MacNeil Kaleidoscope of Hope Research Grant for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer
GCF is the foundation of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists whose mission is to ensure public awareness of gynecologic cancer prevention, early diagnosis and optimal treatment. In addition, the Foundation supports research and training related to gynecologic cancers. GCF advances this mission by increasing public and private funds that aid in the development and implementation of programs to meet these goals.

Rebecca Stone, MD, from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, was awarded t