Bringing enzymes to the fight against cancer

Emeritus Professor Philip Board’s distinguished career began with a breakthrough in cancer research.

Emeritus Professor Philip Board’s distinguished career began with a breakthrough in cancer research.

The discovery three decades ago at ANU that susceptibility to cancer could be, in part, an inherited disease has sparked thousands of papers by other researchers.

Professor Board was the leader of a team at the ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research that discovered several enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing substances – enzymes in which many Australians are deficient.

The team began work on a test to identify the enzyme-deficient individuals and to establish whether they are more likely than others to develop cancer.

Now Professor Board says it will soon be possible to sequence a person’s genome at a reasonable cost to identify exactly which enzymes they have.

“The cost is rapidly coming down and is within the realms of being made available for a very reasonable price,” he says.