Doctors in Australia to Use Computer Science to Improve Prostate Cancer Treatment

November 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

Understanding the difference between lethal and non-aggressive prostate cancer usually help to provide effective treatments for men who have been diagnosed to have prostate cancer.

In Australia, scientists and doctors will utilize grants awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council(NHMRC) to carryout studies aimed at  identifying the difference between lethal and non-life-threatening cancer of the prostate.

This is expected to be an elaborative study that may improve the quality of life many affected by this cancer. Details are provided below:

NICTA scientists will use funds from a recently-awarded National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant to help doctors tell the difference between lethal and non-life-threatening prostate cancers. The scientists will use computational analysis to better understand genomic data, paving the way for better, more targeted medical treatments in the future.

As a key member of a cross-disciplinary team led by The University of Melbourne, NICTA will pioneer techniques to analyse genetic information from cancer patients so that men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a better chance of getting the treatment they need. Almost 20,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Australia each year. Although most will survive, around 3,300 die each year of the disease. The problem is that doctors do not have a reliable way to determine which cancers are most likely to be lethal.

We just cannot tell yet which men have the aggressive form, says Dr Geoff Macintyre, NICTA Research Engineer, bioinformatics expert and member of the successful research team.

The project, led by Associate Professor Christopher Hovens, the Director of Scientific Research at the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre at Epworth Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital in collaboration with NICTA and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI), is unique. It will track the molecular changes inside the cells of prostate cancer patients in whom the condition becomes aggressive.

So far, eight patients in whom prostate cancer has spread to the bone have donated cancerous tissue from different stages of their disease to the project s biobank from the primary tumour in the prostate gland, and from secondary tumours in bone before and after treatment.

The study aims to reveal just what happens at the molecular level during treatment and as the disease progresses. It calls for sequencing the entire genome of tumour and normal tissue of each patient at each stage, as well as gathering information on gene transcription, gene activity and DNA structure. This amounts to terabytes of data. Just storing and moving it presents problems, to say nothing of visualising, manipulating and analysing it.

This is where NICTA comes in. Researchers from NICTA s Victoria Research Laboratory are organising the analysis to provide meaningful information from this mountain of data. They are developing new algorithms and co-ordinating, in conjunction with VLSCI, between 60 and 80 different software programs involved in the study. The VLSCI supercomputing facility ( will play a role in this important collaboration.

This project bridges computing and medicine and gives us the capacity to process the data into meaningful biology, says Associate Professor Hovens. Source .

Conclusively, with hope that the researchers highlighted above are definitely going to come up with tentative reports that would help provide positive and resourceful treatments to many men out there suffering from prostate cancer.

This cancer is expected to be diagnosed in about 250,000 men annually, and those with lethal or aggressive forms may die from the condition.

More support should be provided to the researchers above for their initiative.

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