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Adelaide developed prostate cancer laboratory model – improving drug development

For men with metastatic prostate cancer, there are limited treatment options.  The development of new drugs that offer improved health outcomes has been frustratingly slow and costly.

In the August edition of the medical journal Nature Reviews Urology, the game changing research of Dr Margaret Centenera, Associate Professor Lisa Butler and Professor Wayne Tilley at the Adelaide Prostate Cancer Research Centre at the University of Adelaide and part of the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, was published (http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/pubmed/23752995).

The researchers, along with US collaborators, have rejuvenated an explant model, originally developed to a limited extent in the 1970’s. The model uses human prostate tumour tissue, cultured in the laboratory on gelatin  sponges,  to evaluate novel drug compounds.

“While many drugs may show potential when tested using the traditional cell line and animal based laboratory models, most of these fail to show any benefit in humans”, says Dr Centenera.  This is because these models do not recapitulate the diversity or complexity of the tissue microenvironment that is characteristic of human prostate disease.   In contrast, the explant model preserves these features and yields results that are more likely to be seen in the clinic.

This research has been made possible by the many men treated at the Royal Adelaide Hospital who have kindly donated their prostate tissue for research and by urology surgeon, Mr Peter Sutherland, and pathologists at SA Pathology who have offered their time.  This publication is recognition by the Urology oncology community of the potential for this new approach to optimise drug development which will save money, time and men’s lives.   Dr Centenera and colleagues have received funding from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, the Royal Adelaide Hospital Research Fund, and Cancer Australia to use this model to test new drug compounds for prostate cancer.

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