In 2016, it is estimated that 18,138 males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.*  This includes many of the men who serve to protect our country – our defence force, emergency first responders and veterans.

Medical Oncologist Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse, who is based at Repatriation General Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre, is determined to play his part in the fight against the devastating disease. Thanks to your support and funding from the Prabha Seshadri Grant in 2016, Dr Kichenadasse is now leading promising research into a new therapy for high risk localised prostate cancer (when the cancer is still confined to the prostate, but is at a high risk of spreading to other parts of the body).

“Early stage prostate cancer is typically treated with surgery or radiation. If it reoccurs, we treat patients with androgen (hormone) blocking medications,” Dr Kichenadasse said.

“What we are trying to do is to repurpose two well-established medications called metformin (a drug that is used to treat diabetes) and sodium valproate (a drug used to treat epilepsy) to treat prostate cancer. These two drugs have shown significant activity in the laboratory studies performed by the research team under Professor Pamela Sykes at Flinders University.”

Dr Kichenadasse and his team are confident that these two medications have the potential to work together to control the cancer and improve patient outcomes.

“It’s like one drug is helping the other and they are working together to increase the amount of cancer cells killed in the process,” Dr Kichenadasse explained.

“When Urological surgeons perform a prostatectomy they aim to cut out the gland and also some of the surrounding tissue which is called the surgical margin. If cancer cells are still present in the surgical margin, this is generally an indicator for a poor prognosis for the patient. We want to find out if this new drug combination has any preliminary activity on the cancer to improve the chance of surgeons successfully removing all the cancer – giving the patient a much better prognosis.”

Dr Kichenadasse said if this therapy proves successful, his team will then look into whether it can be administered to men with locally advanced prostate cancer in the hopes of shrinking their cancer to make it operable.

“We’re trying to mimic what happens in breast cancer surgery where often patients receive preoperative chemotherapy to reduce the size of their cancer before the surgeon operates.”

Dr Kichenadasse’s research is being supported with the Prabha Seshadri grant from The Repat Foundation – The Road Home.

We look forward to updating you on Dr Kichenadasse and his team’s research findings in the near future. If you have any questions or would like more information please email us at contactus@theroadhome.com.au.

*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)


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