Our prostate cancer research
We're aiming to identify better treatment options that are tailored to an individual cancer.
Men with advanced prostate cancer are treated with the chemotherapy drug docataxel. Unfortunately up to 50% of men don't respond to this treatment. We hope to identify specific markers in the tissue or blood that will identify who'll respond to docataxel, preventing unnecessary treatment.
Our research also looks for markers that determine if the cancer is benign or aggressive. This test, taken at the time of diagnosis, will guide treatment decisions. It should also reduce anxiety, unnecessary treatment and their associated side effects.
Garvan is also studying quality of life in men treated for prostate cancer. This study will help patients, clinicians and surgeons make treatment decisions based on quality of life instead of clinical outcomes. For our studies, we've recruited over 10,000 patients and have access to over 3,000 tissue samples.
Prostate cancer cells can spread to the skeleton but remain dormant for many years, then start to grow and cause bone disease. At which stage the cancer is incurable. In collaboration with bone biologists, geneticists and cancer researchers, we're seeking to identify what causes the cancer cells to suddenly grow in bone, with the goal of keeping them dormant and deactivated. This would have a major impact on the quality of life and survival rates for advanced prostate cancer.
You can support our goal to find better treatments for prostate cancer.
Key areas of investigation
i-DZOMO: a prostate cancer initiative for African men
In Africa, prostate cancer is lethal, claiming the lives of four in 10 South African men. Comparatively, one in ten European men will die from the disease. Professor Vanessa Hayes and her team seek to understand why an African ancestry is a significant risk factor for prostate cancer mortality.
Excitingly, through a pilot study with six South African men, the team has already identified significant genetic differences that could account for the disparity in death rates.
The genomic signature identified in this study, suggests an unknown carcinogen (cancer causing agent) contributing to lethal prostate cancer in Africa.
Compared with non-Africans, the number of tumour mutations (changes in DNA) was almost four-fold greater within African men than reported for non-Africans to date. The genomic signature identified in the small pilot study suggests an unknown carcinogen contributing to lethal prostate cancer in Africa.
There is significant potential for these findings to be translated directly into treatment options, specifically immunotherapy.
i-DZOMO will also facilitate a network of other countries across Africa to replicate the design of this study, underpinning a significant African contribution to current research efforts focused on precision medicine.
In addition to address prostate cancer mortality rates, i-DZOMO will contribute genome data for 500 African prostate cancer patients through the process of the study. This will represent a global first in access to rare and precious genomic information.
The human genome diversity within South Africa and Namibia far exceeds the diversity of all populations living outside Africa combined. Professor Hayes and her team hope to define the extent of human genome diversity within South Africa and Namibia. This will not only assist in defining prostate cancer risk and outcomes, including tumour progression, within Southern Africa, but give rich insights into health and disease more broadly.
i-DZOMO is led by three academic institutions within Africa, the University of Pretoria, University of Nairobi, and the University of Rwanda, with international support provided by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Prof Vanessa Hayes also holds the Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, University of Sydney.