Development of new therapeutic approaches for prostate cancer progression - dissecting the effects of diabetes and obesity in cancer progression

About 25% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer will either present with advanced disease or will fail primary radical therapy.  For these men, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) (or castration) has been the standard of care since 1940s as the prostate and prostate tumours are dependent on androgens for survival and growth.  ADT provides a temporary remission lasting about 2-4 years, but inevitably the prostate tumours begin to grow again and there is no curative therapy for cancers that have progressed to the so-called Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC).  The landmark finding, published in Cancer Research in August 2008, found that these prostate tumours adapt to produce their own androgens rather than relying on testicular androgen production. A central question is what drives this synthesis of androgens in the prostate tumour under these conditions.  Confirming the source of androgen production is critical since this will dictate the targets for novel therapeutic approaches. 

This research will reveal the underpinning mechanism of current advances in advanced prostate cancer clinical trials with the new agent Abiraterone. The innovative research proposed in this study will enable significant advances in understanding the driving force underpinning androgen synthesis in prostate tumours, linking for the first time the potential for high levels of insulin to act directly on prostate tumour cells to stimulate this synthesis. Extrapolation of these findings will also help to explain the linkage of type II diabetes and obesity with increased prostate cancer risk.  Exploiting these findings will aid in the development of new rational therapies for prostate cancer using innovative and state-of-the-art drug screening and development technologies.

Finally, developing a purpose-built education program to bring prostate cancer awareness and information on scientific findings and clinical trials, to prostate cancer sufferers and GPs in regional Queensland will be a great step forward in addressing the disparity of health outcomes in prostate cancer between urban and regional populations.


Colleen Nelson APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI

Associate Investigators

Jennifer Gunter APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Anja Rockstroh APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI


2009 - 2014


Queensland Smart Futures Premier's Fellowships $1 250 000