Dr Helen Palethorpe wants to make a difference in a man’s world.
Not with her career in science (which has moved passed these gender stereotypes), but with her dedication to improving men’s health and finding new treatments for prostate cancer patients.
“I’ve had several relatives diagnosed with cancer and a friend and relative have both died from prostate cancer, so this research has great personal significance for me,” Dr Palethorpe said.
“It is my hope that one day our research will lead to novel treatments that will prevent deaths from this devastating disease.”
Dr Palethorpe has recently joined Professor Greg Goodall and Dr Philip Gregory’s Gene Regulation in Cancer team at the Centre for Cancer Biology, to continue their groundbreaking research into the ‘Quaking’ protein which has been found to be prominent in aggressive prostate cancer.
“Our research is aimed at finding drivers of prostate cancer progression and treatments to block their action,” she said.
“Currently men with advanced prostate cancer receive drugs that reduce the activity of the male sex hormones, called androgens, which drive the growth of prostate cancer in its early stages.
“However, this treatment, referred to as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), is only partly effective and many people develop resistance and recurrence of a more aggressive and lethal form of the disease called castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).”
The team’s research, which made its critical findings thanks to APC’s seed funding, showed that Quaking was higher in prostate cancer following ADT and in CRPC, indicating cancer spread and poor patient outcomes.
“We hope to show that reducing Quaking levels will make prostate cancer cells less aggressive and more sensitive to treatment. If this proves to be the case, we can then design therapies that will target Quaking and reduce prostate cancer progression in patients.
“I’d like to thank Australian Prostate Cancer, The Hospital Research Foundation Group and all who contribute for their generous support. Without this, our research wouldn’t be possible.”