Saturday October 21, 2017   Last updated 23:30PM
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Cancer work earns highest prize

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A cancer geneticist whose work with Maori has changed treatment worldwide has been given the University of Otago’s highest distinction, the Distinguished Research Medal.

Professor Parry Guilford identified the first known gene for fatal inherited gastric cancer after a North Island Maori whanau came to the University’s Cancer Genetics Laboratory hoping for help to understand why so many family members were dying of the disease.

Professor Guilford and colleagues were able to develop a simple genetic test to determine which family members would benefit from early intervention through stomach surgery to eliminate their risk.

While previously there was a 70 per cent death rate for carriers of the mutations involved, now most mutation carriers lead largely normal lives.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says Professor Guilford not only produced ground-breaking research but also worked assiduously to translate it into commercially-available products that are beneficial for cancer patients around the world.

Working with Pacific Edge Ltd, a spin-off from his research at the University, he developed the CxBladder urine test for bladder cancer which reduces the need for painful bladder cystoscopies and reduces healthcare costs.

He is also working on new ways to fight lobular breast cancer and diffuse type stomach cancer.

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