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    Research home > Beat Cancer Project > Distinguishing prostate cancer cells from healthy cells

    Distinguishing prostate cancer cells from healthy cells

    Professor Doug Brooks

    Distinguishing prostate cancer cells from healthy cells

    Our research

    Every year approximately 20,000 Australian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 3,000 die of this disease. This makes prostate cancer the second largest cause of male cancer deaths and a significant healthcare issue, particularly in Australia where the incidence of this disease is high. 

    The current Prostate-Specific Antigen blood test for the diagnosis of prostate cancer lacks the ability to distinguish between healthy people and people with prostate cancer to an acceptable degree of accuracy. This results in missed-diagnoses, over-diagnosis and unnecessary biopsies and treatment. 

    Our research builds on the mounting evidence for a central role for endosome-lysosome compartments in cancer cell biology. Endosomes and lysosomes are directly involved in the critical bodily processes of energy metabolism, cell division, and intracellular signalling and will therefore have a direct role in the development of cancer. 

    We will investigate a novel aspect of their role in prostate cancer to identify new biomarkers (biological indicators of disease). In turn, knowledge of these biomarkers can lead to the development of effective methods for the early detection and prognosis of prostate cancer, which is important as this will have a major impact on patient outcome and survival. 

    To date our research has discovered that the creation of the endosome is significantly altered in prostate cancer cells. We have the potential to use this information to discriminate between healthy people and people with prostate cancer to a degree of accuracy beyond that of the previously described prostate cancer biomarkers. 

    What we aim to achieve

    We aim to develop new diagnostic and prognostic tests for prostate cancer that enable improved patient management and increase the survival outcomes for patients.

    Our next steps and milestones

    Our next step is to apply for further grant funding from NHMRC. We intend to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in the creation of altered endosome as a potential point for therapeutic intervention. In addition, we plan to develop tests for new biomarkers and commercialisation.

    What motivates me

    I find working in the area of cancer research satisfying because of the capacity to apply innovative thinking to solve major scientific problems that will have down stream benefit for patients and families who are impacted by cancer.

    My message to supporters

    The support from Cancer Council SA has been instrumental in providing data for a patent and in the submission of grants for further investigation and translation. The findings from this research have significant potential to reach clinical practice and for commercialisation.


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