Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation

Prostate Cancer

 

 

Fundraisers Rally for Prostate Cancer Research

New Technology Singles Out Proteins In Prostate Cancer

Australian First In Prostate Cancer Research

Laser Treatment For Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer – A Novel Approach

 

 

Fundraisers Rally for Prostate Cancer Research
First Published: Investigator Newsletter - Autumn 2011
Updated:


Thanks to two major donations, a new highly sensitive instrument is helping two different groups of researchers find revolutionary new means of treating and preventing prostate cancer.

Funded by The Brian & Maxine Newell Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research in addition to a donation from Smiling for Smiddy, the new Corbett Rotor-Gene 6000 is used to precisely measure how many times a particular DNA sequence or gene is present in a sample.

Professor Greg Barritt and his team in the Department of Medical Biochemistry will use the Rotor-Gene to measure the activity of channels embedded on the surface of prostate cancer cells which allow the cell to absorb calcium.

Prostate cancer cells have been found to have more of these channels than normal cells, which are known to play an important role in the rapid division and also the death of cells. The team hope to one day develop a drug which will stimulate these channels so the cancer cell absorbs more calcium, which could lead to the cell’s destruction.

For the past few years, the FMC Foundation has also been funding world-leading research which is showing that low doses of radiation, such as those you might get from an x-ray or from air travel, can help prevent cancer by activating defences within normal cells which can help to kill cancer cells and protect against further radiation exposure.

Associate Professor Pam Sykes and her team will use the Rotor-Gene to determine whether this research can specifically benefit prostate cancer by measuring the genetic changes in prostate-cancer prone mice after they are exposed to low doses of radiation.

The team hope to show that low doses of radiation can kill pretumour prostate cells and therefore prevent cancer forming, in addition to or in replacement of androgen ablation therapy.

The purchase of the equipment was enabled by a $31,000 donation from the Newell Foundation, which has been a long-term supporter of prostate cancer research at Flinders in memory of the late Brian Newell. Funds which contributed towards the Rotor-Gene were raised through a Rail to Rocket tag-along tour in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Coromandel Valley in August 2010.

This followed a $25,000 donation from Queensland group Smiling for Smiddy, which was created to commemorate the life of physiotherapist Adam Smiddy who passed away aged 26 to an aggressive cancer. Smiling for Smiddy raised $570,000 in 2010 for cancer research through a series of three, five and eight day cycling challenge events.

 

New Technology Singles Out Proteins In Prostate Cancer
First Published: Investigator - February 2009
Updated:

 

The Newell Foundation, dedicated to supporting prostate cancer research in memory of the late Brian Newell, has donated $10,000 to purchase a 2D electrophoresis kit for the Flinders Proteomics Facility.

 

The 2D electrophoresis equipment will give researchers the tools to separate the tens of thousands of proteins which are present within cells so that one can be looked at specifically.

 

It will be used primarily by PhD student Yabin Zhou, who is using proteomics to investigate why the male hormone androgen is involved in prostate cancer.

 

He hopes to determine what androgen’s link is to a particular protein which has been identified as causing an increased expression of calcium channels in cancerous cells.

 

Proteomics, the study of proteins which are involved in every part of a cell’s function, is an area of science that has only evolved in the last decade.

 

In the state-of-the-art Flinders Proteomics Facility, researchers from all fields can compare diseased cells to healthy cells, and identify the differences in the proteins.

 

It is hoped by identifying those proteins which are more (or less) abundant in diseased cells, they can develop better diagnostic markers and more targeted treatments.

 

Dr Tim Chataway, Head of the Flinders Proteomics Facility, said proteomics is at the “discovery phase” of research projects.

 

“Say we wanted to discover a new colorectal cancer bio marker. We might take some normal tissue and colorectal cancer tissues and then extract all the proteins and see which ones are in greater or lesser quantities inside colorectal cancer cells,” he said.

 

“Once we’ve identified the targets, researchers can then verify those proteins and develop ways to assay or measure them.”

 

Current projects underway at the Flinders Proteomics Facility include investigations into the role proteins play in degenerative diseases, cancer, eye disease, asthma, kidney stones, and multiple sclerosis, to name but a few.

 

Australian First In Prostate Cancer Research
First Published: Investigator - February 2008
Updated:

 

Australia’s first Nitrogen Laser Cell Photolysis System, generously donated by The Newell Foundation, is helping Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) researchers forge new tracks in prostate cancer research.

 

Researchers say the $16,000 system, purpose built in South Australia, will produce an ultra violet light beam which will allow the study of highly specific cell details for the first time.

 

Possibly the second of its type in the world, the laser photolysis system was modelled on a Californian example Professor Greg Barritt saw on a trip to the University of California in 2002.

 

He and his team from the Department of Medical Biochemistry have dedicated their research to finding novel ways to compliment existing prostate cancer treatments.

 

“There is an urgent need for both better prognostic markers and better treatment regimes for latter stage prostate cancer,” Professor Barritt said.

 

“The aim of our research is to better understand why some cancers become insensitive to hormone therapy treatments, and to find a way to predict whether or not a cancer will spread.”

 

Calcium in cells is central to Professor Barritt’s research, as it has been identified as playing an important role in the rapid division and also the death of prostate cancer cells.

 

Calcium travels into cells through channels embedded in the cell surface. Scientists have found there are a greater number of calcium channels in the surface of prostate cancer cells than in healthy cells.

 

Finding a way to measure calcium function in cells, assisted by the nitrogen laser photolysis system, presents the potential of being able to predict whether or not a cancer will spread, and could lead to new treatments for advanced prostate cancer.

 

Professor Barritt hopes to find ways to kill prostate cancer cells by using calcium, and laboratory experiments have demonstrated this strategy is effective in killing cells grown on cell culture plates.

 

Laser Treatment For Prostate Cancer
First Published: Investigator - February 2008
Updated:

 

A nitrogen laser will enable prostate cancer researchers at Flinders Medical Centre to study highly specific cell details for the first time in Australia.

 

The $16,000 nitrogen powered laser system which produces an ultra violet light beam has been donated by the Newell Foundation. The laser system is only the second of its kind in the world.

 

The Newell Foundation was established in memory of Brian Newell who died from prostate cancer in 2003 and supports prostate cancer research through the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.

 

Head of Medical Biochemistry at FMC Professor Greg Barritt said there is an urgent need for better prognostic markers and better treatment regimes for latter stage prostate cancer.

 

‘The aim of our research is to better understand why some cancers become insensitive to hormone therapy treatments, and to find a way to predict whether or not a cancer will spread,’ he said.

 

Professor Barritt has previously identified that calcium plays an important role in the rapid division and death of cancer cells.

 

‘There are ways of manipulating calcium in the prostate cancer cells so they can actually be killed,’ he said.

 

The nitrogen laser system will help researchers to measure the calcium activity of cancer cells and predict whether a cancer will spread.

 

Professor Barritt said the laser will be a valuable diagnostic tool for clinicians and the findings from his research could lead to new treatments for advanced prostate cancer.

 

Prostate Cancer – A Novel Approach
First Published: Investigator - February 2005
Updated:

 

Every year, around 10,000 Australian men are diagnosed and more than 2,500 die of prostate cancer, making it the second largest cause of male cancer deaths, after lung cancer.*

 

These alarming statistics are the driving force behind a Flinders research team currently investigating a new strategy to compliment existing prostate cancer treatments.

 

Professor Greg Barritt from the Department of Medical Biochemistry is presently investigating how to specifically kill prostate cancer cells using calcium.

 

“The idea of calcium being a ‘killer’ may sound a bit strange because calcium has a normal function in cells but what we have previously found is, when prostate cancer cells die, calcium is involved in that process. So we are almost mimicking a natural process” said Professor Barritt.

 

“Calcium has a normal function in all cells but it is very carefully controlled by the body. What we are trying to do is give an abnormally high concentration of calcium conveyed into the cells using a protein.

 

“We have to be certain that we are specifically eliminating prostate cancer cells and not others, so are developing strategies to achieve that and testing using cultured cells”

 

Professor Barritt hopes this novel approach to kill prostate cancer cells using calcium will lead to an additional treatment to compliment existing therapies.

 

*Source: Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia

 
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