Griffith University discovers cancer breakthrough

A Griffith University researcher has identified an enzyme that could help stop the spread of pancreatic cancer.

Dr Stephen Wood from Griffith Univeristy’s early research trials with mice have found that the enzyme, Usp9x, is a critical suppressor of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the state’s fifth most common cause of cancer death. Around 415 people die from the disease every year.


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Cancer Council Queensland has now awarded a $100,000 research grant to Dr Wood to undertake further investigative trials.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said only 6 per cent of Queenslanders survived five years after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

“Tragically, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest rates of cancer survival, despite our best efforts to beat it,” Ms Clift said.

“Pancreatic cancer is often called a silent disease because there are rarely early symptoms until the cancer is big enough to touch and affect organs nearby.

“Dr Wood’s new research is very promising and, with our support, we hope more information can be uncovered that will assist in the future treatment of this terrible disease.”

While there is currently no routine screening test for pancreatic cancer, and the causes are unknown, there are a range of factors that may put some Queenslanders at higher risk.

“Smokers are two to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer,” Ms Clift said.

“Age is also a factor, with the cancer occurring mostly in people over the age of 65. Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and a family history of inherited cancer syndromes are also risk factors.

“Queenslanders should also be aware of the early signs of pancreatic cancer, which can include pain in the upper abdomen, loss of appetite, weight loss, jaundice and changed bowel motions.”

Around 470 Queenslanders are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, and about 415 die from the disease.

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