The CARISA calls for research proposals detailed below have now closed. Please review the application details of the closed calls for further information on our general proposal requirements. Note that CARISA will not be issuing further calls for proposals in 2013.
Childhood cancers differ in type, aetiology and outcome from adult cancers; adult cancers are largely influenced by lifestyle, while childhood cancers are predominantly influenced by genetic and environmental factors. In general, leukaemia, brain tumours and kidney cancer are the most common cancers found in South African children. In addition, the high prevalence of HIV in South Africa changes the pattern of childhood cancers such that cancers with a putative infectious cause are also highly prevalent. Childhood cancer is curable if diagnosed early; however at least half of all South African children with cancer are never diagnosed, or present for treatment at too late a stage, presumably as a consequence of a combination of lack of knowledge on the part of parents and health care practitioners, and lack of access to medical care and appropriate treatment facilities.
CARISA is therefore calling for research proposals which focus on the biology, epidemiology, diagnosis, management, treatment, palliation and/or psycho-social aspects of childhood cancers with specific reference to the South African context – particularly the HIV epidemic. CARISA wishes to support research which is likely to have a high impact and national relevance. Multi-institutional, consortium-based and cross-disciplinary project proposals will receive preference.
Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers in South African males. Data from the National Cancer Registry show that at least 1 in 23 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime with some variability across the population groups. Men have a much higher chance of surviving aggressive prostate cancer if it is detected early. Screening for prostate cancer can involve physical examination, urine tests and biomarker assessment. The current standard biomarker for prostate cancer is the prostate specific antigen (PSA); abnormalities in blood levels of this protein arouse clinical suspicion and indicate that further investigation is necessary. However, the diagnostic accuracy of the PSA test is compromised by low specificity – common conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis result in elevated PSA levels. Routine PSA screening may lead to unnecessarily invasive responses to changes in PSA levels: many prostate cancers progress very slowly, in which case watchful waiting may be the most appropriate course of action. However, PSA testing cannot distinguish between slow and fast progressing prostate cancers. In addition, the delay in receipt of test results caused by transport of specimens to a centralised testing facility increases the likelihood of loss to follow-up in socio-economically depressed populations who can ill-afford the cost of repeated clinic visits. PSA screening may therefore be of limited utility in the South African context.
Hence, there is a clear need for a more clinically relevant rapid accurate point-of-care prostate cancer screening test which could be rolled out in South Africa. This test may involve a combination of multiple biomarkers to eliminate false positives and provide improved indication of the need for, and timing of, subsequent treatment interventions. CARISA is calling for proposals which will address this need through work conducted at South African institutions.
CARISA is inviting proposals for funding that fall within any of its research priority areas, viz:
• Mechanisms of carcinogenesis
• Molecular epidemiology
• Drug and vaccine development
• Determination of cancer risk factors
• Treatment and palliation
• Social and public health research
• Cancer data management and surveillance
Proposed projects need to be of national value, high impact, multi-institutional, consortium-based and cross-disciplinary.