ADAMTS family of genes may be the next ‘thing’ in ovarian cancer treatment

There is the Addams Family. And then there is the ADAMTS family. While one is mindless entertainment, the latter may prove to be a new genetic avenue for designing ovarian cancer treatment.

Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have identified a new class of gene mutations in the ADAMTS gene family that may contribute to outcomes in ovarian cancer without BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. BRCA1/BRCA2 are tumour-suppressing genes involved in DNA repair that are well known for increasing risk for ovarian and breast cancer when mutated.

Patients with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations generally respond better to chemotherapy with longer survival. However, these mutations are found in only 20 percent of ovarian cancer patients. This doesn’t account for the 70 percent of patients who respond well to platinum-based chemotherapy.

“This suggests that events other than BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations exist that predict chemotherapy response,” said Zhang, who has previously published on the significance of BRCA2 mutations in ovarian tumours. “In this study, we examined data from The Cancer Genome Atlas to determine the association between novel gene mutations in ovarian cancer and patient overall survival, progression-free survival and chemotherapy response.”

Zhang’s team looked at data for the years 2009 to 2014 and identified mutations from eight members of the ADAMTS family among the 512 cases studied. The data revealed a significantly higher rate of chemotherapy sensitivity within this group.

“We concluded that ADAMTS mutations may contribute to outcomes in ovarian cancer cases without BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations and this may have important clinical implications,” said Yuexin Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pathology, the first author of the study. “We found no statistical correlation between ADAMTS and BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.”

Ovarian cancer remains the leading cause of mortality from gynaecological cancer. Despite aggressive surgery and chemotherapy, most patients eventually experience relapse with generally incurable disease mainly due to chemotherapy resistance, said Zhang. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center