Early Multimodal Detection of Cancers Originating from Synthetic Hormonal Therapy in a p53 Knockout Murine Model
Prof Francois van der Westhuizen
Title of the project
Early multimodal detection of cancers originating from synthetic hormonal therapy in a p53 knockout murine model.
Estrogen has long been recognized as a carcinogenic agent that could increase the risk of developing various types of cancers, yet it is still widely used in combination contraceptive medication. These oral contraceptives (and also other types of contraceptives) have been made available at public sector facilities and mobile clinics across South Africa as part of the National Contraception and Fertility Planning Policy of 2012. The use of combination oral contraceptives, therefore, are still very common among South African woman of various ethnic groups, despite the known role estrogen may play in carcinogenesis. Regular, inexpensive screening methods for the early and timely detection of estrogen-induced cancer are, therefore, needed and crucial for effective treatment. It could increase the likelihood of a more positive prognosis for the patient and limit the cost (and period) of treatment. In South Africa, many cancer patients go undiagnosed and untreated, resulting in premature and unnecessary deaths. This is in large part because they don’t have readily access to healthcare facilities in isolated rural, mostly poverty stricken, communities. Instead, they have to rely on mobile laboratories or infrequent hospital and clinic visits to urban centers where long queues and poor service delivery discourages individuals from regular health screens. Additional contributing factors include the high cost of therapy, side-effects of chemotherapy, and cultural stigma. Our project aims to contribute to the development of a non-invasive, cost-effective, robust and rapid alternative approach for the early detection of estrogen-induced cancer.