Researchers are preventing the spread of deadly prostate cancer
Critical work to prevent the spread of prostate cancer to other, often fatal, areas of the body has taken an important step forward in progressing to patient trials.
The research is being led by Associate Professor Belinda Parker from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, whose team was the first to identify that Type I interferons (IFNs) – proteins which are meant to activate the immune system upon infection – don’t work properly in cancer cells and are a key contributor to cancer progression and spread.
“Type I IFNs are now considered key players in the immune response against cancer cells, as these cells are different from normal cells in the body,” A/Prof Parker said.
“We are trialling a number of agents in the laboratory that have potential to switch on IFN in cancer cells.
“By restoring IFN production from cells, we have shown that we can block the growth of cancers in bone. Given that the spread of cancer is currently very difficult to treat, this offers an exciting avenue for blocking or targeting cancer spread and reducing patient mortality.”
This exciting research is now being trialled in prostate cancer patients, bringing hope for those whose cancer has spread to the bone.
“We are involved in a pilot clinical trial in prostate cancer patients where patients are treated with an agent that stimulates IFNs, the tissues are then collected and brought back to the laboratory for analysis of the impact on the immune response,” A/Prof Parker said.
“We want to prove that these agents work well in patients that have lost IFN signals in their cancer cells and work towards individualising cancer therapy and preventing deadly metastases (spread).”
The work also looks promising for breast cancer patients whose cancer has spread.
Local Research – Global Impact
A/Prof Parker’s exciting research was presented at a recent meeting hosted by the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) and proudly sponsored by APC as part of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.
The four-day meeting assembled the top cancer researchers nationally and internationally with a key theme: translating basic cancer discoveries all the way to the clinic.
APC is proud to sponsor events such as this to provide researchers the opportunity to collaborate on work which will lead to a cure of our most deadly diseases.
The CCB’s Associate Professor Yeesim Khew-Goodall (pictured right) was very grateful: “With APC and THRF’s generous sponsorship, we were able to attract an outstanding array of international and national speakers and participants, to speak about their cutting-edge research in the areas of new cancer therapies and new insights into how cancers progress to more aggressive stages.”