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18 Years
80 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Ovarian Cancer

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Trial Information

Incidence of Ovarian Cancer:

Ovarian cancer is the first in mortality rate of the gynecologic malignancies with an
overall 5-year survival rate of only 20–30%. It became a more and more important disease in
recent years and the incidence of ovarian cancer also increased in recent years in Taiwan.
The lack of symptoms, difficulties in early diagnosis, insufficient accurate tumor markers,
and lack of information about ovarian tumor biology contribute to the poor prognosis in
ovarian cancer patients. The prognostic parameters for ovarian carcinomas are tumor stage,
histologic subtype, degree of malignancy, and residual tumor after surgical treatment.
However, these factors present an incomplete picture of the tumor biology of ovarian cancer
and are frequently interrelated. Thus, the identification of new biologic factors predictive
of individual disease course and prognosis would be extremely useful. From the
above-mentioned data, ovarian cancer is indeed a disease that should be respected, however,
there has only been a little research done focusing on it in Taiwan.

Treatment of Ovarian Cancer:

Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (EOC) and extraovarian Müllerian carcinoma are similar pathologic
entities that share a preference for peritoneal cavity involvement. The spread pattern of
these tumors presents a challenge and unique opportunities for immunotherapy. Patients with
EOC who have stage I disease (localized to ovaries) after optimal surgical staging, have a
5-year survival rate of 90%, with no significant change at 10 years. In contrast, patients
with spreading beyond the ovaries have median survival rates that decrease to < 10% for
patients with bulky residual disease after surgery and treatment with platinum-based
combination chemotherapy. A randomized trial of first-line chemotherapy in patients with EOC
with residual masses larger than 1 cm after initial surgery, showed a median survival period
of 38 months for cisplatin/paclitaxel, significantly greater than 24 months for the
cisplatin/cytoxan treatment arm. In an interim analysis of an equivalency trial, survival
after carboplatin/paclitaxel was not worse than cisplatin/paclitaxel. Even though early
diagnosis is an important goal of ongoing clinical research efforts, it is unclear whether
advanced EOC starts as a multicentric process involving the ovaries and the peritoneal
surface. It is now established that hereditary factors contribute to the development of EOC.
Germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for approximately 10% of all EOC. In a woman with
a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation, lifetime risk for ovarian cancer ranges from 16%–44%. With the
commercial availability of genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, more women are being
identified as being at high risk for ovarian cancer. There are no clear guidelines on cancer
prevention for these individuals. Although prophylactic oophorectomy is a reasonable option
for women who have completed childbearing, these women are still at risk for developing
peritoneal cancer. Clearly, other options for prevention are needed.

Immunotherapy for Ovarian Cancer:

In developing effective immune-based strategies for EOC, there should be a distinction
between preventative and therapeutic approaches. It is anticipated that immunoprevention
(immunoprophylaxis) will be developed for women who are at an increased risk for the
development of EOC. In contrast, immunotherapy would be used as an adjuvant to surgery or in
combination with chemotherapy or other biologics as chemoimmunotherapy or
biochemoimmunotherapy. Patients with undetectable disease after being restaged after
chemotherapy could be considered for immunotherapy with the presumption that a majority does
in fact have micrometastases. Development of effective immune-based concepts for prevention
or treatment of EOC will require an understanding of tumor-immunology principles, mechanisms
of action of the expanding array of immune modulating molecules, identification and
characterization of tumor antigens, and determination of the microenvironment factors that
could impact on the different immune-effector mechanisms. The clinical researcher has been
provided with many immune directed agents, but progress on their integration into standard
therapies has been somewhat slow.


Mesothelin is a 40-kDa glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked glycoprotein. It is synthesized
as a precursor of molecular mass 69 kDa, which then is proteolytically processed into an N
terminal secreted form of molecular mass 30 kDa and a membrane-bound form of 40 kDa. In
normal tissues, the expression of mesothelin has subsequently been shown to be largely
restricted to mesothelial cells, although immunoreactivity has also been reported in
epithelial cells of the trachea, tonsil, fallopian tube, and kidney. Hough et al. observed
that mesothelin was over-expressed in ovarian carcinoma. It seems that mesothelin may be
utilized as a tumor marker or target antigen for ovarian carcinoma.

Epitopes of Mesothelin for Human Haplotype:

The incidence of HLA-A2 haplotype is over 50% in the Western countries. The incidence of
HLA-A2 and A24 haplotype is around 30% and 15% in Taiwan, respectively. The specific
epitopes of the mesothelin in the HLA-A2 and A24 haplotype have been identified. There are
Mesothelin aa20-28 (peptide SLLFLLFSL) and aa530-538 (peptide VLPLTVAEV) for the HLA-A2
haplotype. And Mesothelin aa435-443 (peptide FYPGYLCSL) and aa475-483 (peptide LYPKARLAF)
are the epitopes of HLA-A24 haplotype.

Our research team has focused on the development of cancer vaccine and immunotherapy for
several years. Our laboratory facilities have also been set up to evaluate the human
immunologic assays for human papilloma virus type 16 E7 antigen by the grant supported from
National Taiwan University Hospital. It is very important to set up various
mesothelin-specific immunologic assays of human beings to evaluate the effect of cancer
vaccine or immunotherapy for ovarian cancer in future clinical trials. So we would like to
provide this proposal to address the development of mesothelin-specific immunologic assays
in human beings. There are several aims in this project:

1. to develop and utilize assays to measure CTLs to mesothelin, and

2. to evaluate the mesothelin-specific immunologic responses between normal controls and
ovarian cancer patients.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Healthy volunteers and ovarian cancer patients will be enrolled from the
investigators' department under the approval of the Institutional Review Board.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Observational Model: Defined Population, Observational Model: Natural History, Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional, Time Perspective: Retrospective/Prospective

Principal Investigator

Chi-An Chen, MD

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

National Taiwan University Hospital


Taiwan: Department of Health

Study ID:




Start Date:

August 2005

Completion Date:

December 2008

Related Keywords:

  • Ovarian Cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • immunotherapy
  • mesothelin
  • normal volunteer
  • Ovarian Neoplasms