Our Mission Statement
To develop innovative research leading to earlier detection and more effective control of ovarian cancer; to investigate newer modles of treatment; and to heighten women’s awareness of the symptoms of, and treatment options for, this disease.
At the Ovarian Cancer Institute, we are fiercely dedicated to ovarian cancer awareness and funding ovarian cancer prevention research. Our first-class research team includes world-renowned gynecologic oncologist Dr. Benedict Benigno and leading cancer researcher Dr. John McDonald. Often called a renegade, Dr. McDonald takes an “outside the box approach” to his work. He seeks out researchers from other disciplines – engineering, nanotechnology, medicine, computer science and chemistry – to see if their work could somehow apply to cancer research. This innovative fight to ovarian cancer research can only be provided at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where Dr. McDonald is a staff member.
OCI was established with the mission of supporting promising new approaches to the early diagnosis and more effective treatment of ovarian cancer. The Institute seeks to fund the development of research strategies that have the potential to revolutionize the care of ovarian cancer patients. Such novel approaches are often considered of “high risk” and thus not considered fundable by federal agencies. OCI is designed to fill this gap.
- Recent breakthroughs resulting from OCI funding include the development of a novel machine learning approach to ovarian cancer diagnostics that identifies metabolic patterns in the blood of women that is diagnostic of early stage ovarian cancer with extremely high (100% in initial tests) accuracy.
- A similar OCI-funded machine learning approach has resulted in the development of algorithms that input the genomic profiles of individual patient tumors to predict optimal personalized drug therapies with high accuracy (84%).
- A third highly successful research project funded by OCI is the development of nanoparticles for the targeted delivery of chemotherapies directly to patient tumors thereby bypassing the negative side effects associated with current treatments. This technology was recently selected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for accelerated development in the NCI supported Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratories in Fredrick, Md. We are currently applying for FDA approval to evaluate the technology in early stage human trials.
Has the OCI actually developed an early diagnostic test?
YES! AS DESCRIBED ABOVE SCIENTISTS SUPPORTED BY OCI HAVE DEVELOPED A 100% SENSITIVE AND SPECIFIC STAGE I DIAGNOSTIC BLOOD TEST FOR OVARIAN CANCER! Years ago, researchers stopped working with proteins, as they are large, cumbersome molecules, and switched to the study of metabolites. Using machine learning in conjunction with the massive main frame computers at Georgia Tech, the research team studied metabolites that were present in the serum of patients with ovarian cancer but were not present in the serum of healthy controls. Each one of these metabolites is called a feature. The recursive feature elimination method was used to delete 100 features at a time until we reached a hundred, at which time they removed one feature at a time until they got down to the magic number – 16. THIS IS THE BASIS OF THE TEST – A SERUM SAMPLE THAT DEMONSTRATES SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN LEVELS OF THESE 16 METABOLITES IS INDICATIVE OF AN EARLY CANCER.
These pioneering early studies were conducted using 100 patient samples. Over the past year, the lab has initiated a considerably expanded metabolic study that, when completed in 2019, will include 1,000 patient samples, which have been purchased. A large team of GA Tech biochemists and computer scientists are involved in this monumental study with the goal of leading to FDA approval of the test for clinical application.
Generous donations allow the research team to serve countless hours in a state-of-the-art research lab learning more about the disease state in its present form, and furthering the pursuit for ovarian cancer prevention research and testing. With the support of the Ovarian Cancer Institute, Dr. Benigno lectures the general public on how to take charge of their health and the importance of the BRCA gene. In addition, he authored “The Ultimate Guide to Ovarian Cancer: Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, and Research.”
Our mission could not be fulfilled without the dedication and generosity of many outstanding community volunteers. They work tirelessly to publicly communicate the importance of ovarian cancer awareness, and to plan and execute events raising funds for ovarian cancer prevention research. Some of our events include: an elegant fall five course dinner at Bacchanalia with wine pairings and silent auction; a informative lectures with Dr. Benigno open to the general public; and Galentine’s Day, a cocktail party celebrating your “gal pals” and advocating about ovarian cancer.
For more in-depth knowledge about OCI and the research CLICK HERE (appendix provided by request)
To learn more about how we fulfill our mission, ovarian cancer awareness and how you can be a volunteer, contact the Ovarian Cancer Institute at 404-300-2997 or through our contact form.