Cancer Council Victoria fellowship to help Monash prostate cancer research

Congratulations to Dr Edmond Kwan on receiving a Cancer Council Victoria Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to continue his research aimed at improving longevity and quality of life for patients with prostate cancer.

"Immunotherapy treatments work by activating the body’s immune system to better seek out and destroy cancer. Their discovery has revolutionised the management of multiple cancer types, with many patients experiencing durable cancer control and few treatment-related side effects. Disappointingly however, immunotherapy has achieved only modest success in prostate cancer. Strategies to better predict which prostate cancer patients will benefit from immunotherapy is therefore an urgent research priority" Dr Kwan said.

This $80,000 fellowship will enable Dr Kwan to have protected research time to pursue translational research related to clinical samples taken from the ICE-PAC trial, a Victorian clinical trial for which he is the coordinating co-Principal Investigator (along with Associate Professor Arun Azad).

The ICE-PAC clinical trial is run through the MHTP Clinical Trials Centre, and investigates the role of combining immunotherapy with high-dose focused radiotherapy for patients with advanced prostate cancer. The study was led by Monash Health, jointly collaborating with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Eastern Health. Preliminary results are encouraging, and were recently presented at the 2021 ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. As part of the study, regular blood tests were collected from the patients treated with combination therapy.

Dr Kwan's project will utilise novel technology capable of analysing circulating DNA and RNA shed from the cancer directly into the bloodstream. By identifying abnormalities in the DNA and RNA, Dr Kwan and his team may be able to identify patients most likely to benefit from immunotherapy, and of equal importance, which patients are better off trying alternate therapies.

Speaking of the grant on behalf of his team, Dr Kwan said, "I am honoured to receive the Cancer Council Victoria Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. We thank the patients and their families for their participation in the ICE-PAC study. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Victorian co-investigators, study coordinators, nurses, and radiation therapists for their continued dedication and enthusiasm".

"This award would not have been possible without the tremendous support and opportunity I received during my PhD from my supervisors Associate Professor Arun Azad and Professor Eva Segelov, as well the broader School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health family." he said.