Fast-tracking prostate cancer breakthrough

At the University of South Australia we have cancer in our sights and are coming after it with everything we have. You, too, can join the fight. By donating to the UniSA Fight Against Cancer fund, together we can continue to bring our world-leading discoveries and treatments to patients sooner so we can save lives faster.

A team of world-leading prostate cancer investigators at the UniSA Cancer Research Institute, led by Professor Doug Brooks, has tracked not only how the cancer cells talk to each other, but also how they send out beacons filled with their basic needs to aid in its spread.

Professor Brooks' team has used this knowledge to create new diagnostic tools for prostate cancer and other common cancers, as well as using this communication pathway to create targeted treatments.

With high accuracy, his team has created a prostate cancer test that can tell us if the cancer will be aggressive or not so that the very best treatment option can be prescribed.

“Currently, cancer doctors must rely on flawed PSA tests to diagnose prostate cancer and predict how the cancer will grow,” says Professor Doug Brooks, Head of the Mechanisms in Cell Biology and Diseases Lab at UniSA.

"Up to 50% of men have false-positive PSA test results. Consequently many men are sent to hospital for the second stage of tests – invasive prostate biopsies – when they do not actually have the cancer.”

“The current tests also fail to identify as much as 15% of aggressive prostate cancers. These men are usually not diagnosed until after their cancer has grown into a far more deadly stage of the disease. PSA tests also fail to distinguish between aggressive and nonaggressive tumours, which does not help when trying to make decisions on if and how to treat a patient.

“With our new biomarkers we have developed a series of effective new tests that will transform how prostate cancer is detected and how the patient’s chance of survival and treatment plans are measured."

Soon this research will be tested for its real world impact for prostate cancer sufferers, with a clinical trial scheduled to commence later this year.

Donations made to the UniSA Fight Against Cancer fund last year helped purchase the very latest tissue staining technology (a Roche-Ventana Ultra Tissue Stainer) which is essential for high volume diagnostic analysis and is enabling the team to get to trials faster and help patients sooner.

There are more than 300 world-class cancer researchers in UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute building, and dozens of research projects underway within the laboratories. Many are close to helping real patients and simply need the funding to make that happen.

You can Join the Fight and help to get these potentially life-saving results out from under the microscope.