Discovering new targets to treat ovarian cancer

Dr Eric Conway
Project period
Aug 2023 - Jul 2026
Research Institute
University College Dublin
Cancer types
Ovarian cancer
Award amount

Project aim

Dr Eric Conway aims to discover proteins that are involved in the development of ovarian cancer and how these proteins interact. By testing existing drugs against these protein interactions, he hopes to reveal new ways to treat ovarian cancer.

Hope for the future

Ovarian cancer is the 8th most common cancer in women around the world - in 2020 over 200,000 people around the world died from ovarian cancer. We need to understand more about this disease to reveal new ways to treat it.

PAX8 is a protein that has been shown to play an important role in ovarian cancer, so researchers thought that it would be a good target for treatments. However, attempts to target PAX8 have not been successful. Dr Eric Conway believes that instead of targeting PAX8 directly, it may be better to find out what proteins it works together with and target these proteins instead. By doing this, the researchers hope to reveal new ways to treat ovarian cancer.

Meet the scientist

Dr Conway says he has had an interest in science for as long as he can remember, and that David Attenborough’s documentaries likely had a big influence on his fascination with the diversity and adaptability of organisms on Earth. After losing his grandad to lymphoma at 18, he was driven to study cancer.

Outside of the lab, Dr Conway is a big rugby fan. He and his wife, who is also a cancer researcher, are both big video game fans and find it a great way to relax after a busy day in the lab!

The science

Dr Eric Conway and his team will use model cancer cells to look for proteins that PAX8 interacts with. The researchers will also use a method called ‘next generation sequencing’, which is a fast and affordable way to find the recipe of DNA, which could reveal how PAX8 helps cancer growth. They even plan to use some sequencing techniques that have never been used in Ireland before!

The research team particularly want to test out the idea that a group of proteins, called BAF, are involved in working with PAX8. Previous studies hint that this might be the case, and there are already drugs that target BAF. That means a drug that takes advantage of this potential link to treat ovarian cancer could already exist. Dr Eric Conway hopes that their research approach could more quickly lead to clinical trials.

I would like to give my utmost thanks to the Worldwide Cancer Research Curestarters for all their fundraising efforts! Without their passion and hard work, our research would not be possible. This kind of research is essential for the future of cancer research and therapeutics.
Dr Eric Conway

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