Dr Zeyad Nassar

Finding pathways to attack prostate cancer

Zeyad’s research grant is a Cure Cancer grant funded by The Can Too Foundation.

Zeyad is a scientist at the University of Adelaide Medical School. Born in Amman, Jordan, Zeyad graduated with a BSc in Pharmacy from the University of Applied Sciences in Jordan in 2007, a MSc in Pharmacology from the University of Science Malaysia in 2011 and his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Queensland in 2015.

He graduated in the top three in Jordan and made the University and Dean’s Honours Lists seven times. He currently has a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship.

The Research

Prostate cancer depends mainly on the metabolism of lipids (molecules including fat) in tumours in order to spread. Despite this, scientists haven’t yet properly explored the role of fatty acid metabolism in the progression of the disease, or its potential as a target for therapy.

In his Cure Cancer-funded project, Zeyad will evaluate the targeting of lipid metabolism pathways in prostate cancer. He aims to use the information he discovers to introduce new treatment options, especially at the late stage of the disease when it’s notoriously resistant to currently available drugs. ‘We hope this will significantly impact prostate cancer mortality,’ says Zeyad.

Cancer cells use lipids to gain the energy they need to multiply and invade distant tissues. Zeyad is therefore trying to identify and inhibit the activity of the most functional lipid enzymes in prostate cancer cells, thus preventing them from producing energy.  

As is the case with many researchers, Zeyad’s efforts are fuelled by compassion. After his bachelor’s degree, he worked in a hospital pharmacy in Amman where he could communicate directly with cancer patients and their families. ‘Hearing their stories, experiences and dreams made me appreciate the urgent need to find a cure for this devastating disease.’

The Importance of Funding

Zeyad expresses his deepest gratitude to Cure Cancer donors and fundraisers. ‘Starting a research career after a PhD is never easy,’ he says. ‘Competition for funding is tough, grants dedicated for early career researches are rare, funding is scarce and young scientists are struggling to introduce their novel and creative ideas.’

‘This grant will help me keep working in the medical research field, using cutting-edge technologies to address critical clinical questions. It will also help me to publish high-quality research manuscripts and make me more competitive for future national and international funding and fellowships.’