Memorial University of Newfoundland Researcher Makes Significant Progress in Prostate Cancer Research
ST. JOHN’S, NL, Jan. 17, 2013 /CNW/ – Dr. Ken Kao and his team at
Memorial University of Newfoundland have made an important discovery
that could lead to better detection and treatment methods for those
diagnosed with prostate cancer. The two-year research project is funded
in part through the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland
and Labrador (RDC), a provincial Crown corporation.
“Our province continues to be a place where life science researchers
like Dr. Kao can find the support they need to test and develop their
research,” said the Honourable Keith Hutchings, Minister Responsible
for the Research & Development Corporation. “Although we have a long
way to go towards finding a cure for prostate cancer, it should not be
understated that an important discovery in the fight against this
disease was made right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
RDC provided $90,247 through its LeverageR&D Program to this project,
with an additional $147,637 from Canadian Institute for Health
Research, the Genesis Group, Memorial University, and funds from the
Motorcycle Ride for Dad – Avalon Chapter administered through the Dr.
H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation.
Dr. Kao is a professor of oncology in the Division of Biomedical
Sciences in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine. He and his team have
discovered that the protein called Pygopus is highly active and
concentrated in prostate cancer cells. This discovery is important, as
Pygopus is generally not found in normal prostate cells or benign
“We will be able to make significant progress with this research
funding, which will build on our original findings,” said Dr. Kao.
“Right now, when a diagnosis is made it’s often not known how the
tumour will progress. By understanding how active and concentrated
Pygopus is in prostate cancer cells, we can strengthen a diagnosis. We
wouldn’t have been able to come this far without the collaborative
efforts of so many people here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our
efforts are getting us closer to not only improving the quality of life
for the men and their families affected by this disease, but to
hopefully finding a cure once and for all.”
According to the Canadian Cancer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador,
it is estimated that 490 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer by the
end of 2012. Across Canada, the number of new prostate cancer diagnoses
was estimated to be over 26,500 by the end of 2012.
Laboratories traditionally use a handful of biomarkers to help identify
and characterize cancer from patient samples, in order to determine the
appropriate level of treatment. Dr. Kao believes that by using the
Pygopus gene as an additional biomarker, it may be possible to gain a
better understanding of where the tumour is in its development to help
guide treatment options.
“The important work currently underway by Dr. Kao and his team should be
commended,” said Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer, RDC. “The life
science research conducted here at Memorial University’s Terry Fox
Cancer Research Laboratories is another example of how Newfoundland and
Labrador continues to be a place where important medical discoveries
and health management tools are studied.”
The Research & Development Corporation is a provincial Crown corporation
responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador’s research and
development performance. Since it was launched by the Government of
Newfoundland and Labrador in 2009, the corporation has provided $7.7
million towards 61 health and life science research projects that have
led to, or are contributing to, the development of products and
services that treat a wide-range of diseases and chronic health issues.
In Budget 2012: People and Prosperity, RDC received an allocation of $19
million to make strategic research and development related investments
in people, research opportunities and infrastructure. For more
information about the corporation, go to www.rdc.org.
SOURCE Research & Development Corporation
Image with caption: “RDC CEO Glenn Janes, centre, along with Dr. Christopher Loomis, Vice-President (Research) of Memorial University, far right, touring Dr. Ken Kao’s laboratory in November 2012. Dr. Kao is third from right. (CNW Group/Research & Development Corporation)”. Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130117_C6659_PHOTO_EN_22660.jpg