Lab Canada

New technique developed for injecting cancer cells into mouse ovaries

Guelph, ON – University of Guelph researchers say they have perfected a technique for injecting cancer cells directly into mouse ovaries, a breakthrough that could ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer.

Over the past 18 months, Dr Jim Petrik, professor Roger Moorehead and PhD student Jim Greenaway have developed a mouse model for in vivo testing of the disease. Dr Petrik is already working with a pharmaceutical company making anti-angiogenic drugs, compounds that curtail blood vessel growth and effectively cut off a tumour’s supply of oxygen and nutrients.

Clinicians and other researchers are offering positive reviews of the new mouse model for ovarian cancer. Clinical oncologists who see the disease every day in their clinics are particularly interested in this work, said he says.

Until now, researchers have relied on artificially cultured clumps of cells and immuno-compromised mice that poorly mimic disease progression in normal animals.

In the UofG mouse model, ovarian cancer spontaneously occurs in about two months, allowing the researchers to follow tumour progression, including characteristic development of secondary lesions and fluid buildup. Dr Petrik says they hope to hunt down particular genes and proteins involved in that progression as candidate targets for early diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Petrik has received a $500,000 grant from the Ontario Cancer Research Network to support this work. He and his colleagues have been working with researchers at the University of Western Ontario and Harvard University and are discussing collaborations with an ovarian cancer research group at the University of Toronto.