Dr Stephen Assinder
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The work of Andrology Research Group is concerned with two significant issues of male health, namely prostate disease and environmental endocrine disruption of male fertility.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. More than 2,700 men die of prostate cancer in Australia each year. It was estimated that in the year 2000, there were 513,000 new cases worldwide. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common benign tumour in men, resulting in severe morbidity.
Research of the group is focused on:
1. Understanding how the loss of structural proteins involved in organization of the cell cytoskeleton contribute to the development of prostate cancer phenotypes.
2. Hormone regulation of prostate cell proliferation. In particular we are interested in how the hormones usually associated with females, namely oestrogen and oxytocin, are associated with abnormal growth of the prostate.
Endocrine disruption of male fertility:
It is of increasing concern that human sperm quality is declining. Many environmental factors have been implicated in this decline, including phytoestrogens. Since phytoestrogens were first associated with the disruption of mammalian fertility there has been considerable interest in their effects on sexual development and reproductive function. This is particularly pertinent given the increasing advocacy for the use of phytoestrogens as bioprotective agents against disease (eg. cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer). Work has recently demonstrated that exposure to phytoestrogen in adulthood can disrupt factors that determine fertility. In an attempt to understand the mechanisms involved, the group is developing transgenic models to determine the roles of oestrogen in spermatogenesis.