Newcastle researchers investigating how the gut interacts with lung cancer, and if dangerous prostate cancers can be identified with a blood test, have been awarded grants by the Cancer Council.
Professor Hubert Hondermarck of the University of Newcastle said the funding would allow him to perform his current research into a new indicator of aggressive prostate cancers on a "larger scale".
"The initial screening for prostate cancer is the testing of PSA [Prostate-specific antigen]. It's a good test but there is a limitation in that the test doesn’t differentiate the aggressive prostate cancers and the indolent cancer or benign tumours," Professor Hondermarck said.
If the new marker his team has found is accurate, he said, it could reduce the numbers of men undergoing unnecessary biopsies and tests for benign cancers.
"We could have a molecule that detects aggressive prostate cancer that need to be treated very early on."
It's one of 13 projects "leading the charge towards a cancer free future" the NSW Cancer Council will reward with funding on Thursday night, at the organisation's research awards in Sydney.
The grants total almost $9 million.
Another University of Newcastle team that will be recognised at the event is looking at whether changing the gut's flora could help prevent, or treat, lung cancer.
Senior PhD student Kurtis Budden said the project, led by Professor Philip Hansbro, was exploring the relationship between the gastrointestinal tract, lungs and immune system.
"The gut microbiome is really coming to the forefront in a lot of research because it drives the host's immune response quite significantly," he said.
"The reason we're so interested in lung cancer is that previous research found a really strong connection between the gut and chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs.
"No one has really looked at cancer at this stage."
He said the grant for the project would help fund three years of pre-clinical research.
"It's going to provide a lot of the staffing and practical support," he said.