Discovery to Cure Gala Benefits Research In Women's Reproductive Cancers

The third annual “Discovery to Cure Gala” A Fall Fantasy will take place at 6 p.m. November 18 at Yale University Commons at Woolsey Hall, 168 Grove St.

All proceeds will benefit research and clinical treatment at Yale Gynecologic Oncology. “Discovery to Cure: Advancing Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment of Women’s Reproductive Cancers” is a vital program of Yale Gynecologic Oncology, a section of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. Discovery to Cure focuses on early detection, exceptional care and treatment, and development of novel therapies for ovarian and other gynecologic cancers.

The gala is chaired by Debra Levin of Westport, and will honor the vice chair of the Yale Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Peter E. Schwartz, M.D., for his 26 years of dedication that helped to build the Section of Gynecologic Oncology into one that is internationally known for excellence in clinical care and cutting-edge research.

The Gala committee members, including Governor Jodi Rell and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, are dedicated to raising support and consciousness for Yale’s efforts to identify women’s reproductive cancers in their earliest stages and to pioneer therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of these diseases. Four hundred guests including prominent residents from southern and western Connecticut will join in the celebration and recognition of Schwartz’s achievements.

Yale physicians and scientists have helped to advance the practice of modern medicine by pioneering viable new treatments for cancer patients—from the creation of an early detection program for ovarian cancer in 1990 to the development of the latest drug to enhance combination chemotherapy for ovarian cancer patients whose cancer cells have become resistant to standard chemotherapy. 

A major challenge of ovarian cancer is that three-quarters of patients do not display significant symptoms until the disease has spread to other parts of the body. The early detection component of Discovery to Cure seeks to screen women at greatest risk for developing ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. Researchers in the Section of Gynecologic Oncology at Yale have recently developed a blood test to distinguish healthy women from those with ovarian cancer based on the levels of key proteins in the blood. They believe that any woman’s reproductive cancer can be cured if it is detected early enough.

Direct connection between the laboratory and the clinic is a unique aspect of the “Discovery to Cure” program. The program coordinates development of the latest clinical trials and new treatments for ovarian cancer patients. Some initiatives include: testing the delivery of chemotherapy locally to the tumor by injecting microscopic capsules into the tumor rather than delivering chemotherapy to the whole body intravenously; determining the intercellular pathway that explains the chemo-resistance response of the cancer cell; and developing a test to determine the variances in genes associated with ovarian cancer, similar to the current process used in identifying the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations in breast cancer.

Four clinical trials currently underway seek to determine the best use of Phenoxodiol, a drug developed by “Discovery to Cure” scientists. Phenoxodiol is known to unblock receptors vital to the destruction of cancer cells in combination with various forms of combination chemotherapies. 

“Our ‘Discovery to Cure’ Program has made great strides in the development of new screenings and treatment options for ovarian cancer, and we are applying what we have learned to other women’s reproductive tract cancers,” noted Charles Lockwood, M.D., the Anita O’Keefe Young Professor of Women’s Health and Chair, Yale Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences. “Over the next few years, we expect our research to have a major impact on the rates of early detection as well as cures for these cancers.”

For information about the “Discovery to Cure” Gala, contact Chris Pates at 203-436-8550 or by e-mail at christopher.pates@yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326