A study from the University of Adelaide, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne and KU Leuven in Belgium, suggests the makeup of lipids in a patient’s prostate gland can help predict treatment response. The study is being funded by a $3.25 million three-year Revolutionary Team Award from the Movember Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Obesity is already considered an epidemic in the United States, and has become a gradually worsening global health concern, especially since it can significantly predispose one to serious cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer. Dr. Andrew Hoy from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney Medical School explained that while obesity does not directly cause cancer, being obese and developing cancer will increase mortality, as evidenced by previous reports of current therapies having reduced efficacy in obese patients. Another issue the study wants to tackle is the absolute necessity for all men with prostate cancer to undergo radical therapy, when many cases are found to be very slow-progressing and may not warrant a potentially life-altering treatment.
Dr. Hoy and the team will be looking into fat cells’ role in driving prostate cancer aggressiveness, and how the type of fat (polyunsaturated or saturated) can predict treatment response. The team hopes to arrive at new information that could contribute to the development of better diagnostic tools, and new treatments that can be adapted to the unmet health needs of the growing number of obese patients. By better understanding what drives the cancer’s aggressiveness, more men can be spared from unnecessary treatment, which maintains quality of life and yields economic benefits.
The Movember Foundation’s Executive Director of Programs, Paul Villanti, said this research is the first of its kind for prostate cancer. “Involving a trans-disciplinary team of experts at the forefront of their respective fields, this program will provide the first proof of whether such an approach can improve or add to the clinician’s toolkit in predicting tumour behaviour and patient outcomes,” he commented in a news release.