FRRB Project 2729068 - Identification of druggable targets using single cell characterisation of epigenetic dysregulation in high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Name and Surname of PI

Aisling Coughlan

Project Acronym


Project ID


Host Institution

Istituto Europeo di Oncologia S.r.l. - Milan

Pathology of Interest

High-grade serous ovarian cancer

Research Area


Project Start Date

1 July 2021

Project End Date

31 March 2022 (anticipated)


€ 57.102,48

Type of Project



In the age of personalized medicine, ovarian cancer treatment has suffered from a critical lack of pre-clinical and clinical advances in identification of precision treatments. High-grade serous ovarian cancer accounts for over 70% of ovarian cancers. It is widely regarded as one of the most lethal gynecological malignancies with extremely poor survival rates and frequent relapse. In the clinic ovarian cancer is still treated with broadly targeted therapies, such as cisplatin. Therefore, rates of survival have not improved in over 30 years.

My project will begin to fill this void in ovarian cancer research by examining the key molecular determinants of the disease in order to identify new targets, or re-purpose existing approved drugs, for treatment. Therefore, this project will provide essential, and potentially prompt improvements in patient treatment for a disease that effects hundreds of thousands of women every year, with some of the highest rates observed in Central Europe.

To do this, I will use my unique position in one of the foremost ovarian cancer research groups in Europe, the Testa lab at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, and the technological expertise therein to assess the epigenomic dysregulation of primary patient tumor tissue compared to the healthy tissue of origin for ovarian cancer. Epigenomic dysregulation is fast being realized as a hallmark of cancer as frequent mutations in epigenetic regulators have been found to drive tumorigenesis in a number of malignancies (i.e non-hodkins lymphoma, malignant rhabdoid tumours, pontine gliomas). Understanding the epigenome of ovarian cancer, and its healthy tissue counterpart, will allow for the identification of potential driver events in tumorigenesis and allow us to determine whether there can be any therapeutic benefits from any of a number of approved, and in-trial, epigenetic targeted small molecule inhibitors.