(October 29, 2010—Toronto, ON) Dr. Eleftherios Diamandis, Lunenfeld Associate Scientist, Hold'em for Life Chair in Prostate Cancer Biomarkers and Head of Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, has received the inaugural Nemitsas Prize in Medical Sciences for Excellence in Biomedical Research, which recognizes outstanding contributions to humanity by Cypriots worldwide. The Takis and Louki Nemitsas Foundation, based in Cyprus, honours Cypriot scientists and artists who have made substantial contributions to society.
“It is always very special to be recognized in your country of origin for work done abroad,” said Dr. Diamandis. “I am grateful to Cyprus for the initial education, and to Canada and my Institutions for providing all the means to do the work that is recognized by this award.”
According to the Nemitsas Foundation, “the International Prize Selection Committee followed a long and arduous deliberation in consultation with top experts worldwide. The Committee unanimously recommends Dr. Diamandis for his excellence in biomedical research.”
Dr. Diamandis and his team at the Lunenfeld focus on discovering and evaluating new biomarkers (a term referring to a protein measured in blood whose concentration reflects the severity or presence of some disease state) for the diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of cancer and other illnesses. The development of new biomarkers is important because when cancer is diagnosed early, it is more likely to be treatable. Dr. Diamandis and his team are concentrating on identifying simple diagnostic tests for the early detection of cancer, including cancer of the prostate.
“Most people are scared about cancer because they believe that the disease is always deadly,” says Dr. Diamandis. “However, there are significant data confirming that early diagnosis is the cornerstone of winning the fight against cancer.”
Much of Dr. Diamandis’ work is also devoted to the physiology and biology of compounds known as kallikreins, which are a group of enzymes (a type of protein) involved in many biological processes, including cell signaling, tissue remodeling, wound healing, skin development and cognition. Dr. Diamandis’ group has discovered most known kallikrein genes, and they are using this information to develop new diagnostic tests for illnesses including cancer, specifically prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, and the second leading cause of cancer mortality. More than 50 per cent of men over the age of 80 will develop some form of latent or aggressive prostate cancer. Currently, there are no effective methods for preventing this cancer. The best way to combat prostate cancer at present is by early diagnosis (with prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA) and administration of optimal therapy.
Dr. Diamandis and his team are working to better diagnose prostate cancer through the development of more specific, non-invasive procedures such as simple blood tests. These tests will avoid a considerable number of prostatic biopsies in patients who have a positive PSA but are later found to be cancer-free.
Dr. Diamandis’ latest research endeavours (in partnership with Dr. Keith Jarvi) is focused on identifying new biomarkers for male infertility.
The Nemitsas Prize will be presented to Dr. Diamandis by the President of Cyprus in a ceremony in Nicosia, Cyprus, on November 23.
The Diamandis/Jarvi team identified more than 3,000 proteins in semen and developed a highly effective diagnostic test for male infertility by simultaneously measuring 30 semen-based components by novel mass spectrometric techniques. Earlier this year, Dr. Diamandis wrote an editorial for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute related to the discovery, validation, failure and success rates of new cancer biomarkers.