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  1. As mentioned in today's teleconference, I am a consumer representative on a research project being conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney into better management of active surveillance using epigenetics. Epigenetics is about whether genes are turned on or off, rather than whether they are there or not (genetics). One of the major epigenetic mechanisms is methylation, the addition of methyl groups to the DNA strands. If they are added near individual genes, they can turn off the activity of that gene. Researchers are also doing an epigenetic project in the Advanced Prostate Cancer setting and showed me some of the results. There were two groups of guys with similar genetics and the same array of genes of interest for each. All had access to the usual treatment options. One group showed very low methylation rates at the selected genes whereas the other had high methylation rates at the same genes. All the guys with high methylation rates are dead and all the guys with the low methylation rates are alive. Epigenetics may be the key to cracking this problem although there is lots more work to do. These researchers have the capacity to look at the entire genome, they are not restricted to a small number of genes. The research group is also looking at biomarkers and potential therapeutics in this space. I am very heartened by these developments.
  2. A mice study not tried on humans "By introducing a particular strain of bacteria into the digestive tracts of mice with melanoma, researchers at the University of Chicago were able to boost the ability of the animal's immune systems to attack tumor cells. The gains were comparable to treatment with anti-cancer drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-PD-L1 antibodies." Click on this link to read a report about this research. Click on this link to read a recent article from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre about microorganisms in the gut.
  3. Tonight's Catalyst program on ABC TV was about a group of cancer patients who are experiencing extraordinary benefits from prescribed targeted exercise programs during chemotherapy. The program will be repeated on Friday 13 May 2016 at 10.30am. Alternatively you can watch it on iview until 19 December 2016.
  4. Paul Edwards

    The tumour trail in blood

    Click on this link for an interesting article from the journal, Nature, about how liquid biopsies can detect cancer signs from a blood sample, without the need for invasive procedures. But further work is needed before they can become reliable diagnostic tools.
  5. Sam Poley's father had aggressive and advanced prostate cancer. About a year ago Sam started a crowdfunding campaign to raise at least $1 million to fund a Phase II clinical trial to investigate the feasibility of using an FDA-approved and generally well-tolerated drug called disulfiram in the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer needs copper—in fact, it’s a glutton for copper and will consume all it can get. This clinical trial will be designed to exploit that as a weakness Unfortunately Sam's dad has died but the appeal has raised $460,000 so far. This is enough to start the trial with 30 patients and more patients will be admitted as the campaign continues to pursue its $1 million target. Click on this link to read an article about the campaign in the New Prostate Cancer Infolink or on this link to read the Give 1 for Dad website. May be some of us will benefit from this research.
  6. Perhaps the "whack-a-mole" approach may not be the best long term strategy. Click on this link to read an interesting article in Scientific American about how scientists are piecing together a more precise picture of how cancer evolves, revealing the roots of resistance and, in some cases, finding out how it might be overcome.
  7. PSMA The big thing in Australian prostate cancer research in 2015 was a little wiggly shape that sits on the wall of a prostate cell - PSMA. In normal prostate cells, PSMA is mostly on the inside of the cell wall. In prostate cancer cells, PSMA moves to the outside of the cell wall. So, if you want to find prostate cancer cells - look for PSMA. Researchers have found a key that locks onto PSMA when it finds it. On the free end of this key they can attach lots of things. PSMA scans One type of thing that is attached to the free end of the key is a thing that will show up on scans. Little bits of iron were the first thing that was tried on the free end of the key. It worked very well for the scan - the iron-ended keys gathered on the surface of prostate cancer cells and they stood out well on x-ray. However, other parts of the body were not happy with so much iron, so researchers looked for other things. The most successful thing to be added to the free end of the key for scanning is a radioactive metal - Gallium-68. A PET-CT scan using Gallium-68 at the end of the key can see much smaller prostate cancers than older technology. Several larger Australian hospitals offer these scans, but patients will find themselves a few hundred dollars out of pocket per scan. We can guess this will change in future if radiographers can show the government that the sharper view will extend life. PSMA treatment The free end of the key can have something attached to treat the prostate cancer cells. Radiation Radiation can kill cells, so putting a radioactive metal at the free end of the key has been tried. Gallium-68 is no good for this because it radiates mostly positrons which cause little damage. Another radioactive metal - Lutetium-177 - has mostly damaging beta radiation, and this is being trialled. Drugs Attaching drugs that kill cancer cells to the free end of the key is a promising approach. In this video, Professor Pamela Russell gives us an end of year report on the research she and her colleagues have done at the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre. Her team is particularly looking at attaching chemotherapy drugs to the free end of the key. If this works, instead of flooding the whole body with a chemotherapy like Taxotere (docetaxel), the key has the drug on the free end, and the other end attaches directly to the PSMA on the prostate cancer cell. This delivers most of the drug where it is needed, and spares the rest of the body. The video is 40 minutes long. If you can't clearly hear some of the technical terms Professor Russell uses, member Len Wise had kindly provided Cc (closed captions) of every word. (Click on Cc at the bottom of the video to turn them on/off.) See the video here: http://www.jimjimjimjim.com/video---research-report-dec-2015.html Or http://tinyurl.com/ja2rnkw Or Follow the link to our video list on the front page of: http://JimJimJimJim.com
  8. Click on this link to read the article in Scientific American.
  9. There is an extensive list of research articles about the benefits of exercise at the Medafit website, both for cancer generally and, more specifically, for prostate cancer. To read these articles, click on this link.
  10. Paul Edwards

    Who's in your "Dream Team"?

    If you could pick "The Best of the Best" or "The All-Time Greats", who would you pick in your Dream Team, a team of champions? Whether it's cricket, rugby, AFL, soccer or basketball, everyone has a wish list for their Dream Team. A few years ago some cancer organisations got together and said "If we could pick a Dream Team of Cancer Researchers, who would be in it? Who are the Best of the Best? Rather than having these leading scientists from different organisations competing for research funding, what would happen if we had the best researchers from the leading cancer centres working together on a problem?" There are now 16 Cancer Dream Teams#, including some working on Prostate Cancer. What got me started on Dream Teams is that the SU2C-PCF Dream Team (Precision Therapy of Advanced Prostate Cancer) collaborated in the research on Olabarib. The last 5-10 years has seen amazing changes in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. With the Dream Teams the next 5 years is going to be very exciting! # A Dream Team is a scientific task force, a collaboration of top researchers at different institutions who come together to develop new and improved approaches to cancer. By pooling their knowledge and their resources and working together for common goals, they can make progress faster and move therapies and treatments from the laboratory to doctors’ offices, where they can benefit patients. Many research projects take many years to deliver benefits to patients. The Dream Team projects are designed to deliver patient benefits in the near term. This distinctive approach to funding cancer research was specifically designed to eliminate barriers to creativity and collaboration by enabling scientists with different areas of expertise from different institutions across the United States and around the world to work together. The approach breaks down the “silos” that in the past have often kept scientists from working together.
  11. The University of South Australia are looking for men who are within 1 year of receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis, and their partners, to volunteer in a study which will explore experiences of prostate cancer in everyday life. The study involves a recorded telephone interview of about 30 minutes. Movember is funding the study. Professor Suzanne Chambers from Griffith University is one of the Study Investigators. If you are interested in participating, please call Katrina Stamp on (08) 8128 4092 or email her at Katrina.stamp@sahmri.com [To achieve better outcomes for men with prostate cancer we need more research about the effects and treatment of prostate cancer. Unfortunately researchers often find it difficult to recruit the necessary number of participants to achieve results that will be statistically valid. The aim of this study is to look at ways that quality of life can be improved in the initial period after a prostate cancer diagnosis. If you've been diagnosed in the last 12 months, please consider participating in this study. I assure you that good Karma will result from participating in the study.]
  12. Paul Edwards

    ABC Jim

    Yesterday the ABC reported the results of some new prostate cancer research funded by Movember and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. They interviewed Jim Marshall as part of the report. Later in the day when Jim was out and about, someone asked him "Are YOU Jim Marshall? - I recognise your voice!" If you missed Jim on the radio, click here to listen to the story or to read the transcript. Well done, Jim!!
  13. The following item by Dr Prue Cormie, a Senior Research Fellow at Edith Cowan University Perth, was first broadcast on the ABC on the Science Show on Saturday 31 May 2014. We are grateful to the ABC and Dr Cormie for permission to publish a transcript. Men think about sex a lot. On average every 45 minutes, which is more often than they think about food or sleep. So it's not surprising that sexual dysfunction is the most frequently identified issue of importance among prostate cancer survivors. Significant reductions in sexual well-being occur in up to 90% of men with prostate cancer. And only a third regain pre-treatment levels. Current management options include drugs such as Viagra, penile implant surgery, or the injection of drugs directly into the penis. Now, not only do these strategies have low levels of uptake and compliance, but they exclusively target erectile function, with no consideration of the many factors that drive sexual dysfunction. There is a critical need for better management options, ones which comprehensively counteract the unique variety of factors contributing to sexual dysfunction following prostate cancer. Now, the good news is we've discovered such a treatment. Exercise. Now, in a world-first we took a set of men with prostate cancer and we divided them into two groups, one which maintained their normal lifestyle or usual care, while the other participated in a supervised exercise program, involving twice-weekly group based sessions. These sessions involved resistance exercise which required men to lift weights, as well as a aerobic exercises such as walking and cycling. After just three months the men involved with the exercise program had a 50% greater level of sexual activity. Fifty percent! This difference was driven primarily through changes in sexual desire, with a larger proportion of men in the exercise program maintaining a high level of libido. In a subsequent study we again observed a targeted exercise program to minimise declines in sexual function, this time during the initial phase of prostate cancer treatment where that impairment is most pronounced. So what is it about exercise that works? Well, exercise prompts improvements in many of the side effects of prostate cancer treatment that contribute to sexual dysfunction. We observed enhanced sexual well-being to be accompanied by significant improvements in a range of factors, such as body composition, especially gains in muscle mass to counteract body feminisation, as well as improvements in fatigue, depression, anxiety, strength, fitness and quality of life. By conducting interviews with these men we discovered that enhanced masculine self-esteem was an additional driver of improved virility. So with this research we've established that exercise is an effective medicine that can be prescribed to counteract the devastating sexual dysfunction caused by prostate cancer treatments. [Edit: Yet again, exercise, the wonder medicine!!]
  14. I just happened to catch a segment on the ABC Science Show about A New Approach in Drug Design For Treating Prostate Cancer. Click on this link to listen to the segment or to read a transcript I was impressed with the way that the young researcher spoke about her work and why research is needed for prostate cancer. She spoke in simple easy-to-understand language.
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