Focus on enzymes for positive change

Posted 9 Mar 2022

Promising Flinders studies could identify new treatment options for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men globally and the second leading cause of cancer death in Australian men.

Early drug treatment involves androgen deprivation therapy, but there are limited effective treatments when the disease progresses.

Associate Professor Robyn Meech has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to continue research into a family of enzymes that control levels of androgens in prostate cancer.

“This project is focused on understanding and targeting a new pathway that is important in the progression of prostate cancer. Traditionally, these UGT2B enzymes were known to control the levels of androgens within prostate cells,” A/Prof Meech said.

“However, our new work suggests that they may have additional functions as direct regulators of the androgen receptor, which is the primary driver of prostate cancer progression.

“This data suggests this family of enzymes may be good targets for inhibition in prostate cancer, particularly at advanced stages, and because there are existing approved drugs that inhibit UGT activity, positive outcomes could be rapidly clinically translated.”

The work to understand the functions of these enzymes in cancer cells could benefit many prostate cancer patients. It could also have a major impact on specific groups, including indigenous men and men living in rural and remote communities, who have poorer prostate cancer survival outcomes than the general population, in part due to later diagnosis.

Research category: Biomedical

Project title: Overcoming androgen receptor addiction in prostate cancer  

Lead researcher: A/Prof Robyn Meech


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