Monash PhD candidate recognised for practice-changing research into prostate cancer

Monash University PhD candidate Dr Edmond Kwan is the recipient of the prestigious Conquer Cancer Foundation Merit Award in recognition of his research into prostate cancer.

A Monash Health medical oncologist, Dr Kwan is a PhD candidate in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

“My PhD research explores the role of androgen receptor variants (AR-Vs) as a predictive and prognostic biomarker in advanced prostate cancer,” Dr Kwan said.

“AR-Vs are abnormal proteins that can be present in prostate cancer, and in recent years, have become detectable in blood tests that analyse circulating tumour cells.”

“These proteins are thought by many to represent one of the primary mechanisms by which advanced prostate cancer can develop resistance to newer drug therapies, such as abiraterone and enzalutamide,” Dr Kwan said.

“Some studies even suggest that patients with AR-Vs do not benefit from these therapies.”

Dr Kwan’s research group— the Prostate Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory—designed a blood test to accurately detect AR-Vs.  This test can be performed more routinely than tests involving circulating tumour cells.

“We found that a significant proportion of these patients with detectable AR-Vs in their blood still benefit from these effective therapies, and therefore we would recommend against clinicians using AR-Vs as a method of choosing ideal treatments for their patients,” Dr Kwan said.

Dr Kwan presented his research at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Genitourinary Cancers Symposium last week in San Francisco.   The findings were also published in the high impact journal European Urology this week (read more HERE).

Dr Kwan said it is an absolute honour to be a recipient of a Conquer Cancer Foundation Merit Award.

“As an early career Oncologist embarking on the PhD pathway, I have a strong commitment to translational research that bridges the divide between basic science research and real-world benefits for patients I see in the clinic,” he said.

“It is extremely encouraging to receive such a highly-sought after award so early in my academic career, and no doubt this will go a long way in assisting my goal of securing an overseas fellowship position post-PhD to further strengthen my independent research skills.”

Dr Kwan acknowledges his PhD supervisors Associate Professor Arun Azad, Dr Sarah To and Professor Eva Segelov, and the rest of the Prostate Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory for all their assistance and hard work on the project.

“This award would not have been possible without their unwavering support,” Dr Kwan said.