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Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Lian Willetts shines light on the frontiers of discovery

Dr. Lian Willetts was awarded 2nd place in the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin representing Dr. John Lewis’ lab by presenting: “Breaking the Walls of Prostate Cancer Metastasis”

Lab Falling Walls is an international competition that challenges graduate students to showcase how their research is redefining their respective fields and breaking down the walls to the next major scientific breakthrough. The University of Alberta is one of 20 approved international events, and the Sept. 30 event saw 16 outstanding examples of graduate research. Dr. Willetts was awarded 1st place during this night.

International Labs and the Finale in Berlin

Falling Walls Lab is a global scale event that takes place in different vibrant cities around the world throughout the year. The Falling Walls Lab Finale is held each year in Berlin on 8 November. The Finale gathers 100 participants, among them all winners of the international Labs.

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Dr. Nawaid Usmani and team receive funding for their PRIME study!

The PRIME Study – Prevention and Intervention for MEtabolic syndrome:

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), and newer manipulations of androgen receptor signaling have improved outcomes for advanced prostate cancer (PCa) patients.  The toxicities of ADT are many, including an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome (MS; defined as at least 3 of: hyperglycemia; abdominal obesity; hypertriglyceridemia; reduced HDL cholesterol; and/or hypertension). MS is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease mortality, stroke mortality, and all-cause mortality.  The prevalence of MS in men receiving ADT is at least 50% and contributes to decreased quality of life and increased non-cancer-related mortality.  Metformin holds promise as a countermeasure to MS development, and also has been shown to suppress PCa growth in pre-clinical models.

We hypothesize that the addition of metformin to ADT will reduce the rates of MS in men with advanced PCa, diminishing important toxicities of a therapy universally used in advanced disease.

We propose a double-blind, randomized phase III study of metformin or placebo in men with PCa starting intermittent ADT. The primary endpoint is the difference in MS rates at 1 year.  Other aims include evaluation of the influence of metformin on: individual MS components at additional time points; mean serum insulin levels and measures of insulin resistance; weight and quality of life.

A finding that metformin reduces MS incidence and/or has other benefits would change practice, as it would provide a practical and inexpensive strategy to reduce toxicity of an intervention employed in most men with advanced PCa.

- Catalina Vasquez