Pratip K Bhattacharya, PhD
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center 2019 Rosser Family Pilot Study Award
Development of Platelet-based Metabolic Biomarkers for Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in women. The disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage as there are no reliable early detection methods. Therefore, there is a critical unmet need for biomarkers that can confidently and easily predict the biological behavior of ovarian cancer to improve early detection, determine how aggressive tumors are, and monitor their response to treatment. Dr. Bhattacharya proposes that a solution may be found in blood platelets—circulating colorless disk-shaped cell fragments, found in large numbers in blood that are involved in clotting. Research has shown that platelets in a cancer-free person contain a different compilation of information, stored in molecules called RNA, than platelets in a person with cancer. These tumor “educated” platelets have recently generated interest for their potential in diagnosing cancer. Dr. Bhattacharya hypothesizes that tumor-educated platelets from patients with ovarian cancer will show a different metabolism compared with platelets from healthy volunteers, and will identify this changed metabolism by a simple, easy, and inexpensive method called NMR spectroscopy on blood samples. This technique, if successful, would be used along with information from imaging information. This method would be of enormous interest because of its ease of accessibility, potential use as metabolic biomarker for ovarian cancer detection, and ability to bypass the need for invasive biopsies.