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Dr Atara Ntekim (2017)

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Host organisation: University of Nottingham, UK

Project title: Discovering biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer in Africa, and developing expertise in genomics at the University of Nottingham towards investigating microRNA profiles and survival in African hormone resistant prostate cancer

Dr Atara Ntekim is a Board certified clinical oncologist working with the Radiation Oncology Department at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He has also undertaken postgraduate degree programmes in Oncology and Genomics in Europe to improve his cancer research skills. Poor prostate cancer outcomes in Nigeria stimulated his interest in finding locally relevant interventions and biomarkers that can be used to guide therapy. His research focus is on hormone associated cancers especially prostate, breast and uterine cancers.

AREF Fellowship research project:

Close to 70% of Black Africans with prostate cancer die from the disease compared with about 30% in Western countries (with higher incidence). African prostate cancer is characterized by late presentation and rapid progression. There is need for studies that will describe the nature of African prostate cancer and discover biomarkers that can be used to guide diagnosis and treatment. The aim of this project is to identify the profile of microRNAs in these patients which can be further developed to guide treatment. Dr Ntekim will measure microRNAs in prostate cancer patients with response and no response to chemotherapy and identify those which can be used to indicate disease progression. Identifying biomarkers from body fluids will provide ease of monitoring diseases.

At the University of Nottingham, Dr Ntekim will be working with a team of scientists headed by Dr Nigel Mongan (Associate Professor of Cancer Biology & Translational Research, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences). There he will learn molecular/genomic techniques relevant to biomarker discovery, using tissue samples from Nigeria. Being part of a large international prostate cancer research network will enhance his career undoubtedly. His home institution will also benefit from this opportunity and is providing a wide array of support including space/facilities, staff, financial management support, and will continue to support his future grant applications for research funding.

Through his AREF placement, Dr Ntekim developed expertise in biomarker discovery from body fluids. This is easier and cheaper, and will lead to improved survival chances in those diagnosed with prostate cancer.