While there are many treatments available for prostate cancer, once the disease spreads, it becomes more difficult to treat. Professor Greg Goodall and his team at the Centre for Cancer Biology are leading vital research to stop the growth and spread of this devastating disease. They are focused on one crucial molecule which plays an important role in our body – the RNA molecule.
RNA stands for Ribonucleic Acid and is one of the three major biological molecules that are essential for all known forms of life.
Having studied this molecule for over a decade, Prof Goodall and his team have many projects underway investigating the all-important role it plays in the spread of prostate cancer to other areas of the body. In fact, his team were the first to discover certain microRNAs, which are small non-coding RNAs, play a key role in cancer.
“Over 10 years ago we were the first research group to discover that particular microRNAs are strongly involved with a process that helps cancer grow, become invasive and migrate to other areas of the body,” Prof Goodall said.
“For prostate cancer, as we know, this is the lethal side of the disease.”
Prof Goodall and his team currently have a project underway looking at targeting these microRNAS to create a new therapy for prostate cancer.
“The major problem with prostate cancer is that there is a commonly used treatment that works for a period of time but for some patients it eventually fails and their cancer comes back. We are realising that combination therapies, where you hit two or more targets at the same time is the way to go for long-term remissions,” Prof Goodall said.
“This is where our research comes in. MicroRNAs act as network controllers, meaning they regulate a number of genes and pathways that are important in cancer. If we can target this network through a new combination therapy, this will dramatically reduce the chance of a patient developing therapy resistance.”
Continuing to explore the role these molecules play, Prof Goodall and his team also recently discovered another form called circular RNAs could be another key target for a new prostate cancer therapy.
“We know there are a number of these present in the process of cancer spreading, but we want to know more about what their function is.”