HudsonAlpha developing genetics-based ovarian cancer treatments

September is ovarian cancer awareness month

Annually, more than 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Of those, the disease is fatal to more than half. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is attacking ovarian cancer in numerous ways in an effort to lower those numbers … and save lives.

“Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect early and challenging to treat. Utilizing genetics and genomics to identify new screening mechanisms and therapies will ultimately enhance our ability to better care for patients, and save lives,” said Richard Myers, PhD, HudsonAlpha president and science director.

At HudsonAlpha, scientists are marking nonresponsive cells in chemotherapy, investigating an agent that targets pathways known to be important in ovarian cancer development, testing possible therapies with collaborators and using epigenetic approaches.

Cancer therapy is moving beyond classical chemotherapy to include epigenetic approaches. Epigenetics research examines gene expression regulation in response to environmental indicators. HudsonAlpha scientists are studying the epigenome of the immune system. HudsonAlpha is on the forefront of researching the ways that the immune system can work for targeted cancer therapies.

“We are applying what we know about epigenetics to our work with ovarian cancer,” said Devin Absher, PhD, a faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha. “It is a particularly compelling cancer to study. Early detection is paramount. The approaches we are investigating may lead to new therapies.”

In addition to investigating the epigenetic implications of ovarian cancer, scientists are studying the immune response in tumor cells. Using this approach, scientists hope to understand the role that the immune system has with tumor cell development and how it might be reversed or slowed.

HudsonAlpha scientists are also targeting chemotherapy cells to indicate a response, investigating a treatment that targets a known pathway to be important in ovarian cancer development and testing new therapies to treat ovarian cancer.

This work is all part of HudsonAlpha’s Breakthrough Breast and Ovarian Cancer team. This group of scientists is committed to the goal of using genomic science and HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art technology to find new breakthroughs in breast and ovarian cancers. Through collaborations with scientists around the nation, this team is working to find biomarkers that lead to earlier, more accurate diagnoses and new pathways for more effective and targeted treatments.

Breast and ovarian cancers are complicated diseases but through the power of genomic research and medicine, HudsonAlpha is working to find answers that make a difference. Each day HudsonAlpha’s scientists strive to find new breakthroughs that will bring health, healing, and hope to our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. Click here to watch how HudsonAlpha is making a difference.

For more information or to support HudsonAlpha’s Breakthrough Breast and Ovarian Cancer team, please visit To attend HudsonAlpha’s November Tie the Ribbons event benefiting breast and ovarian cancer, please visit