A/Prof Jyotsna Batra

Genes flag risk of prostate cancer

Jyotsna is an independent group leader at the Queensland University of Technology, based at the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane. She specialises in prostate cancer research.

The research

Through her previous Cure Cancer Australia grants in 2014 and 2015, Jyotsna has identified genetic variations - specifically in the regulation of proteins encoded in a person’s DNA - that predispose men to prostate cancer. These genetic variations are promising therapeutic targets for new treatments for the disease.

“The 2018 funding will allow me to take the lead from previous work and continue to progress to testing on patients,” she says. 

“It’s given me the freedom to carry out novel and advanced research, which wouldn’t have been otherwise possible".

Identifying risk

Jyotsna believes that changes in gene sequences, when used alongside the traditional Prostate-Specific Antigen blood test (which can be unreliable on its own), can serve as effective biomarkers to identify men predisposed to developing prostate cancer.

These biomarkers can also help distinguish the slowly progressive from the aggressive form of the disease.

“By analysing the DNA of around 50,000 individuals, half of which belongs to prostate cancer patients, we’ve identified 100 genetic variations associated with prostate cancer risk”, she says. “They can collectively explain about 30% of the inherited component of the disease”.

The human touch

As much of her research is conducted on samples taken directly from prostate cancer sufferers, Jyotsna understands the urgency of her work.

“I can feel patients’ anxiety in the initial stages of diagnosis,” she says. “Affected men are keen to find out whether they should wait and watch, or start aggressive treatment as soon as possible”.

Jyotsna cites focus and passion as essential attributes of a successful researcher and believes ‘smart work’ can deliver success.

In her spare time, Jyotsna enjoys reading, travel and spending time with her young son.

 

Jyotsna is funded by Cure Cancer Australia through the Cancer Australia Priority-driven Cancer Support Scheme.

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