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New video - Advanced Prostate Cancer Research Report December 2015: Professor Pamela Russell


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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 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.



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:





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  • 1 month later...

Thanks Paul for digging this out after our telephone hookup this morning. A very interesting video (I don't know how I missed it previously) Could be exciting times ahead for Australian researches and patients. Fingers crossed.

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