Researchers at the University of Oxford are now closer to finding the cell of origin of ovarian cancer, and their ultimate aim of developing a much needed screening tool for ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women, with around 7,500 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year (1). Currently only 35% of patients in England will live 5 years beyond their diagnosis. Less than 1 in 3 patients in England are diagnosed at Stage 1 where survival rates are as good as 95% (2). The development of screening tools have transformed survival rates for other cancers such as cervical and breast cancer.
The new technique is called single cell RNA sequencing. It examines all the RNA molecules in a cell, whereas the traditional technique can only look at a group of cells at a time. In this study, the researchers used single-cell sequencing to look at the RNA in individual normal cells from the inner layer (epithelium) of Fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, and which is the origin of the vast majority of ovarian cancers. By doing so, they were able to identify new subtypes of normal Fallopian tube cells.