Bo Yu, MD
University of Washington
2017 Cookie Laughlin Bridge Funding Award
The role of fallopian tube microbiome in ovarian carcinogenesis
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological cancer in the United States. The high mortality rate is due to a lack of understanding of the origin and development of this disease, which makes both early detection and targeted treatment difficult. We critically need innovative research to understand how this deadly cancer initiates and progresses. Dr. Yu proposes to test a novel and highly plausible hypothesis for the origin of ovarian cancer: infection arising from genital tract bacteria that travel to the fallopian tubes causing inflammation and damage to DNA in cells leading to ovarian cancer. Several pieces of existing evidence have led Dr. Yu to this yet untested hypothesis. First, we know that the fallopian tube is the site of origin for a large proportion of ovarian cancer, and it was recently shown to carry genital tract bacteria. We also know that blocking the communication between the fallopian tubes and the environment, such as through tubal ligation or hysterectomy, decreases ovarian cancer incidences. Dr. Yu will directly investigate the connection between the fallopian tube bacteria and ovarian cancer development by using a well-established bacteria sequencing technology and an ovarian tissue bank at the University of Washington. If Dr. Yu can establish an association between the fallopian tube bacteria and ovarian cancer, it would provide a major new perspective that would influence early detection, prevention and treatment of ovarian cancer.