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    Research home > Beat Cancer Project > A new dietary supplement to prevent colorectal cancer

    A new dietary supplement to prevent colorectal cancer

    Dr Julie Clarke

    The effects of butyrylated high amylose maize starch on polyposis in Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) volunteers

    Our research

    Australia has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) in the world.  Although CRC is largely preventable by appropriate diet and lifestyle there are no dietary strategies available that provide consistent protection. The aim of our project is to determine whether a novel starch (starch butyrate) can protect against colonic polyp development in humans with a hereditary form of CRC.  Butyrate is normally produced in the colon by the fermentation of dietary fibre and has been shown to protect from cancer by inducing programmed cell death of damaged cells lining the colon. If successful the study would provide a novel and cost effective food supplement that could reduce or delay the development of CRC in those with an inherited risk of CRC, and also benefit those in the community with common (non-inherited) CRC.

    What we aim to achieve

    The aim of this clinical trial is to investigate if a novel dietary starch supplement can protect from the development of CRC. The supplement has potential to reduce the incidence of cancer, and to delay the development of the disease which would increase the time during which easily treated polyps can be treated before life-threatening cancer develops.

    Our next steps and milestones

    When the clinical component of the study is complete the effect of the modified starch on the primary end measures will be reviewed, and if the results are positive, additional funding will be sought to undertake further studies.  If the outcomes of the study are positive, commercial support will be sought to undertake a clinical trial to determine the effects of the starch on sporadic CRC.

    What motivates me

    I am lucky to have an opportunity to be involved with research that has potential to directly benefit human health.  I am enthusiastic about novel technologies that are simple and effective, especially when the method of action augments the body's existing protective mechanisms.  Colon cancer is an insidious disease and I welcome the opportunity to investigate a dietary chemo-preventative supplement that may reduce its impact in the community.

    My message to supporters

    Australian investigators are internationally renown for their innovation and ability, but opportunities to obtain funding to support research in this country are limited. The scientists whose investigations are funded by Cancer Council SA gratefully acknowledge the generosity of their supporters and the contribution they make towards promoting research that benefits many in our community.


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