Women of Teal is a play on the words "Man of Steel" used to describe Superman. I have found my fellow ovarian cancer survivors to be the strongest, most helpful women in the world. They are truly Women of Teal!
I hope women diagnosed with ovarian cancer who live in New Jersey and around the country will find this site useful.
Interview with Dr Goli Samimi ~ Ovarian Cancer Researcher
About two weeks ago I read an article on the news.com.au site entitled "Ovarian Test is Close:Researchers". The research of Dr Goli Samimi a researcher in Australia was mentioned in the article and I was interested in learning more about the DNA blood test she was developing. I searched online and found her page on the Garvan Institute of Medical Research site which is located in Australia. So after a bit of thought and a nudge by a friend I decided to e-mail Dr. Samimi and ask her if she would answer a few questions about her research for this blog. She responded to me and said she would be happy to discuss her line of research. I am happy to share with you Dr Samimi's responses to my interview questions.
are currently associated with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in
Australia. What is your medical background and how did your interest in ovarian
cancer research begin?
I’m not a medical doctor—I received my PhD from the University of
California, San Diego in 2004. My thesis involved studying why ovarian cancer
cells become resistant to chemotherapy. I then did my post-doctoral fellowship
at the National Cancer Institute, NIH in Bethesda, MD. My post-doc research
involved studying ovarian tumors to find new therapeutic targets.
the recent online article “Ovarian Cancer
Test is Closer: Researchers” it mentioned identifying specific biological
changes in DNA of women with ovarian cancer. Does your research use blood samples,
tumor samples or cell lines?
Our research uses blood samples to identify DNA changes, because
the hope is to develop a non-invasive test (such as a blood test) that can be
used to determine which women may have early stage cancer. Once we have
identified some of these changes, we will check to see if they are also present
in the corresponding tumor.
describe in layman’s terms the methods you are using to conduct your research.
We collect blood from patients or healthy volunteers. We then
separate the plasma and use a commercial kit to isolate the DNA that is present
in the blood. We then use another commercial kit to enrich the DNA for regions
that are methylated—this is a biochemical alteration in the DNA that happens
during the development of cancer. We then subject the DNA to sequencing to
compare which regions are methylated in cancer versus healthy subjects. Once we
get a list, we need to confirm these regions in a larger sample before it could
be applied to the public. We are looking at 5-10 years down the line.
DNA changes are you looking for? Insertions, deletions, mutations?
DNA methylation is considered an epigenetic alteration, which
means a change in the structure of DNA, rather than the actual sequence.
does your line of research differ from others developing early detection tests?
We are the first who are applying whole-genome sequencing to
methylated DNA from blood. Most are focusing on proteins (like CA-125) or
specific DNA sequences.
you see this test being used in the general population, with women at risk for
ovarian cancer or those exhibiting symptoms of the disease?
Because of the relative rarity of ovarian cancer, it’s difficult
to apply these kinds of tests to the general population as you would need
essentially 100% accuracy for it to be helpful. So we intend to apply this test
to women at risk, so women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
will your test be ready for clinical trial? What issues do you see in
developing this method for widespread use?
Because the analysis of whole genomes takes some time, and the
results have to be validated in larger samples before being applied in a trial,
we are aiming for 5-10 years down the road.
the cost of this test be in line with other detection tests, such as the
Good question, I actually don’t know the answer to this. I guess
it would depend on who markets it and how many women it can be applied to.
do you see in the future for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer?
We know that women who are diagnosed early have a very high
survival rate (80% 5-year survival). They usually undergo surgery and may not
even need chemotherapy treatment. So if we can improve early detection, we can
improve the survival rate and quality of life of women diagnosed with ovarian
10. Is there anything else you would want women to know about
your test for ovarian cancer?
We still have some time before our test or others will be
developed or applied, so in the meantime listen to your body and make sure to
have regular check-ups.
Thank you Dr Samimi for taking time to answer these questions and all your efforts to find a early detection test for ovarian cancer. Dee Every Day is a Blessing!