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Research Updates

Funding groundbreaking research on ovarian/uterine cancer, its causes and treatments has been a huge focus of the Emer Casey Foundation’s mission.


In this recent article, Gasch et al 2017 CSC Review, Claudia Gasch, Brendan Ffrench, John O’Leary and Michael F. Gallagher explore the importance of understanding cancer stem cell hierarchies and chemoresistance in ovarian cancer.  Funding from the Foundation through the DISCOVARY Consortium was key in developing this research and supporting the work of the three researchers under Professor John O’Leary of Trinity College Dublin, The Coombe Women’s Hospital and St. James’ Hospital, Dublin.

CGasch-photo ID(1)

Claudia Gasch

Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

Brendan Ffrench

Brendan Ffrench


Synopsis of Research

Tumours are composed of many different types of cells which presents challenges in terms of identifying the precise cells to target with new treatments.  In this project, the team has exploited the recent availability of single cell analysis techniques to assess the precise role of different types of cancer cell in ovarian cancer chemoresistance.   The research demonstrated that one specific type of cancer stem cell is responsible for chemoresistance in this model of ovarian cancer. In ongoing research, the team is developing ways to specifically target this cell type, to improve the response of ovarian cancer to chemotherapy.

Importance of Emer Casey Foundation Funding

The funding was used to develop a new approach to the analysis of the chemoresistance properties of the many different types of cell within the tumour.  Having developed the approach, it can now be applied to many different models of ovarian cancer to identify targets for new chemotherapy treatments.  Importantly, this approach has already been applied with great success, to produce similar results in models of breast and lung cancer.


The Foundation values its relationship with the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre and kConFab in Melbourne, Australia and is proud of the support we have been able to give through the hard work of the Melbourne Run team.  kConfab’s latest comprehensive update is here kConFab Report March 2017 and more on the upcoming Melbourne Run here.

In summary, kConFab, based at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne report significant progress in discovering two new genes associated with ovarian cancer.  In addition, their statistical work with ovarian cancer patients, which includes collecting samples and monitoring treatment details and isolating those who respond well to treatment and those who do not, will lead to significant developments in tailoring treatment for individual women. A unique rapid autopsy programme has allowed the collection of tissue from women who have unfortunately died.  This allows investigation of tumour progression and treatment resistance linked to a particular genetic profile.  An important feature of this programme has been the positive meaning it has given to the patients.  While it is consistently acknowledged that their lives will end shortly, they know that their generous donation will help other women obtain better outcomes for years to come.