Pearls of Port Stephens Show Support for HMRI Ovarian Cancer Research

Feb 24 2021

With ovarian cancer sadly taking the lives of over 2/3 of people diagnosed in 5 years, Port Stephens-based fundraising group 'The Pearls of Port Stephens' recently donated more than $3,000 to HMRI to support ovarian cancer research.

Attracting a great community turn out to their Tea Gardens Pop-Up Op Shop in late January, the Pearl's, led by ‘Mother of Pearl’ Kathy Gillespie visited HMRI earlier this month to present the donation and meet with Dr Michelle Wong-Brown, one of Australia’s leading ovarian cancer researchers.

Thanks to their great work, the Pearls of Port Stephens are helping fund research into the 10th most common cancer in females in Australia. About 1580 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.

In May 2020, Associate Professor Nikola Bowden, Professor Jennifer Martin, Dr Michelle Wong-Brown and Dr Penny Reeves from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, were awarded $2.69 million for their Australian Program for Drug-repurposing for Treatment-resistant Ovarian Cancer.

The five-year project aims to take 3,700 existing drugs (that have already been proven to be safe and effective), and screen them to see if they can be applied to treat ovarian cancer.

Since receiving the funding, the drugs have undergone their first screening, with another two steps in the lab required to determine if any of the promising drugs will be effective against ovarian cancer.

In that time, the project has also established a consumer engagement group that provides vital feedback on the design of the research. And is the first to have a consumer as a chief investigator to oversee the project.

“It’s wonderful,’ said Associate Professor Nikola Bowden. “Our consumer engagement group meets every three months. They’re a very active and engaged group of people, with six ovarian cancer survivors on it.”

“It’s so valuable because it means that our project can take onboard and assess the practical application of these drugs.  There’s no point in creating a treatment that’s unpalatable or impractical to the average person. Their feedback allows us to design our research that meets the needs of our participants. It’s priceless information.”

Learn more about the fantastic research into ovarian cancer that is being conducted at HMRI here