Dr Zeyad Nassar
Univeristy of Adelaide
Zeyed Nassar 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. Zeyed was funded by Can Too in 2019 for his research into Prostate Cancer.
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.’