Characterising insulin signalling in androgen-deprived prostate cancer cells

We are investigating the actions of insulin on prostate cancer processes and whether existing drugs, normally used to control metabolic disorders, could be repurposed in advanced prostate cancer to improve existing treatments.

First line therapies for localised cancer fail in nearly 25% of prostate cancer patients and these men will subsequently be treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). However, the initial therapeutic response from ADT inevitably progresses to an incurable stage of the disease. Therefore, our research aims to identify factors that drive progression of prostate cancer, following ADT.

While effectively treating prostate cancer, ADT can cause metabolic side-effects including persistence of high levels of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinaemia), which is specifically associated with more rapid treatment failure. Therefore the relationship between high insulin levels and prostate cancer progression is of significant clinical interest. This leads to the logical speculation that there may be therapeutic benefit to repurposing existing drugs which are used routinely to treat patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity to prevent insulin induced CRPC pathways.

We aim to define cancer survival pathways induced by insulin in prostate cancer cells, in the context of ADT, that lead to growth and metastasis. This project will also evaluate the response to existing therapies in advanced prostate cancer using cell models.


Colleen Nelson APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Jennifer Gunter APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Ken Ho Centres for Health Research, Princess Alexandra Hospital, TRI & University of Queensland
Brett Hollier APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Stephen Finn Trinity College Dublin & Irish Prostate Cancer Consortium
John O'Leary

Associate Investigators

Elizabeth McCaffrey APCRC-Q, Princess Alexandra Hospital
Margot Lehman APCRC-Q, Princess Alexandra Hospital
Michael Pollak
Simon Wood APCRC-Q, Princess Alexandra Hospital


Allison Eckert Australian Prostate Cancer BioResource, APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Lidija Jovanovic APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Martin Sadowski APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI


2014 - 2015


Cancer Council Queensland $200 000