University researchers awarded grant to image an early trigger in prostate cancer

Justin Sturge and Graeme Stasiuk

Above: Dr Justin Sturge (left) and Dr Graeme Stasiuk (right)

Researchers from the University of Hull have been awarded a £100,000 grant from Prostate Cancer UK to investigate into an early trigger of the disease.

Dr Justin Sturge and Dr Graeme Stasiuk have received the funding to develop a new bioimaging probe which will help detect the initial stages of the disease.

The grant is a result of recent findings at the University which uncovered a new mechanism for how the more aggressive form of prostate cancer begins. The research found that in healthy prostate cells, a molecule called Endo180 was bound to another molecule, and that this binding stopped cells from becoming aggressive. But when the two molecules are forced to separate, the cells break way from each other meaning cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body and this results in more aggressive illness.

The new bioimaging probe is being designed to detect the separation of the two molecules and will be used to detect the switch in prostate cells from normal to aggressive behaviour.

 

 

The University is an ideal setting for this research as it houses state-of-the-art chemistry facilities in which to make the probes, and a high-end biology setting in which to test them. The University has links with the clinical MRI provision in Hull, allowing the probes to be taken forward for testing in patients once they have been proven successful in the laboratory.

Dr Justin Sturge, lead researcher and Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science at the University of Hull said: “This grant is crucial to the research we are conducting into the early stages of the disease. The probe will detect the switch to aggressive prostate cancer and this, we believe, will help to improve the treatment of cancer and ultimately help pave the way to saving more lives.”

Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University said: “The University has a strong history and a solid reputation for research with particular focus to areas in the health sector.

“Dr Sturge and Dr Stasiuk’s work reflects this wider commitment to research and is a great example of interdisciplinary research working across our departments. We look forward to seeing how this work will develop.”

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “The use of imaging techniques to monitor prostate cancer has the potential to provide us with a much clearer way to spot aggressive prostate cancer cells early. However, there are currently very few useful tools which can enable us to do this, which is why this research is important.

“By combining good biology with state-of-the-art chemistry we can hopefully develop better techniques to help clinicians more accurately identify how aggressive a man’s prostate cancer is.  We look forward to the results of this work.”

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