spring 2013

e d u c a t i o n
Project makes significant progress in prostate cancer research


CNW Group/Research & Development Corporation Photo

 

Research & Development Centre CEO Glenn Janes, centre, along with Dr. Christopher Loomis, Vice-President (Research) of Memorial University, far right, touring Dr. Ken Kao's laboratory in November 2012. Dr. Kao is third from right.

Dr. Ken Kao and his team at Memorial University of Newfoundland have made an important discovery that could lead to better detection and treatment methods for those diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Submitted Article

Dr. Ken Kao and his team at Memorial University of Newfoundland have made an important discovery that could lead to better detection and treatment methods for those diagnosed with prostate cancer. The two-year research project is funded in part through the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, a provincial Crown corporation.

Dr. Kao is a professor of oncology in the Division of Biomedical Sciences in Memorial's Faculty of Medicine. He and his team have discovered that the protein called Pygopus is highly active and concentrated in prostate cancer cells. This discovery is important, as Pygopus is generally not found in normal prostate cells or benign tumours.

“We will be able to make significant progress with this research funding, which will build on our original findings,” said Dr. Kao.

“Right now, when a diagnosis is made it’s often not known how the tumour will progress. By understanding how active and concentrated Pygopus is in prostate cancer cells, we can strengthen a diagnosis. We wouldn’t have been able to come this far without the collaborative efforts of so many people here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our efforts are getting us closer to not only improving the quality of life for the men and their families affected by this disease, but to hopefully finding a cure once and for all.”

According to the Canadian Cancer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, it is estimated that 490 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the end of 2012. Across Canada, the number of new prostate cancer diagnoses is estimated to be over 26,500 by the end of 2012.

Laboratories traditionally use a handful of biomarkers to help identify and characterize cancer from patient samples, in order to determine the appropriate level of treatment. Dr. Kao believes that by using the Pygopus gene as an additional biomarker, it may be possible to gain a better understanding of where the tumour is in its development to help guide treatment options.

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