While COVID-19 has impacted health charities across Canada in some challenging ways, we’re excited to share that our work continues with leading clinicians and scientists to advance research and better outcomes for women affected by ovarian cancer. Our community successfully advocated for and secured a federal investment for ovarian cancer research in 2019, and we’ve been busy putting that investment to work through OvCAN, our five-year research initiative.

Four OvCAN-funded clinical trials happening across Canada will provide a wide range of new insights into how PARP inhibitors can be used to combat high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), and investigate novel alternatives for women who are no longer responsive to this emerging treatment option.

These trials are led by some of Canada’s top oncologists, and each applies a different lens to the potential of PARP inhibitors and related treatments — drugs that have been shown to delay the recurrence of HGSOC for some women. They were selected from a pool of applications by a panel of international experts and patient partners in a competition administered by Ovarian Cancer Canada as part of OvCAN.

A trial co-led by Dr. Diane Provencher of Montreal’s CHUM Research Centre and Dr. Helen MacKay at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto will apply a “one-two punch” by combining the PARP inhibitor Veliparib with a second drug, Navitoclax. The two-pronged goal of this trial: to expand the benefits of this therapy to more women; and to prolong its effects in managing recurrences of the disease.

The NEO Trial, a multi-centre study led by Dr. Amit Oza and Dr. Stephanie Lheureux from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, aims to determine how early this new therapy can be introduced in an ovarian cancer patient’s journey. The trial will compare the use of the PARP inhibitor Olaparib to standard chemotherapy applied immediately before and after surgery as a way to delay disease progression and reduce recurrences.

  • To learn more about participating in the NEO Trial, visit this website or call Dr. Amit Oza, M.D. at 416-946-2818.

Dr. Oza is also leading another trial, which zeroes in on the most significant drawback of PARP inhibitors: the possibility that they will eventually stop working. To combat this, he and his team are evaluating the effectiveness of the experimental drug CX-5461 to kill cancer cells after the use of a PARP inhibitor.

Similarly, a second trial led by Dr. Lheureux will examine tissue from women whose cancer has returned after treatment with a PARP inhibitor. It will use a real-time assessment of the properties of the tumour to determine the most appropriate treatment needed next. The REVOLVE clinical trial is being conducted at leading cancer centres across Canada, and its findings hold the potential to change the way women with ovarian cancer are treated, as well as lay the groundwork for new areas of drug development.

The four Canadian oncologists leading these efforts bring an enormous wealth of knowledge, experience, and passionate dedication to their respective projects, and we are proud to support their amazing work. Though diverse in approach and application, these exciting trials are united by their potential to bring made-in-Canada findings to the forefront of the global push to improve ovarian cancer outcomes. Visit the Research section of our website to learn more about OvCAN’s priorities and unique approach to helping Canadian women with this disease achieve better quality of life and longer survival.