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24th October 2021 Latest News

Improving the Early Detection of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Zeyad Nassar

A blood test to improve the early detection of prostate cancer more likely to spread is the focus of an important new research project, made possible thanks to your support!

For the 15 per cent of prostate cancer patients who are at high risk of the cancer spreading to advanced incurable stages, early detection is crucial to improve their survival.

Dr Zeyad Nassar, from the University of Adelaide based at SAHMRI, is progressing work to discover new biomarkers able to distinguish high-risk patients and then develop new treatments to improve their outcomes and quality of life.

“With these high-risk men, earlier and more invasive treatment to overcome prostate cancer is crucial, but there is currently no way of identifying these patients in the early stages when treatment is more effective,” Dr Nassar said.

“We are developing a blood test that can identify these patients early on, enabling them to access treatment before the cancer advances.”

Dr Nassar’s research is focusing on fatty acid oxidisation (FAO), a process where fats are broken down to generate energy and which has been discovered as a main source of fuel for prostate cancer cell survival.

He intends to use a newly-discovered FAO enzyme called HADHB as the biomarker and therapeutic target for this project.

“Preliminary analysis has identified that HADHB is a robustly over-expressed enzyme associated with disease relapse, metastasis and cancer-related death,” Dr Nassar said.

“This enzyme therefore shows promise in helping to identify the patients with higher risk of disease metastasis, and the patients who would benefit most from HADHB-inhibition treatment.

“The targeting of HADHB is already being used in treatments for heart disease, so we know there are similar drugs already in use that are safe and that work in humans.”

The funding received from Australian Prostate Cancer, part of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, is now helping Dr Nassar’s team test these medications as a treatment of prostate cancer, particularly early-stage treatment.