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