A Race Against Time: New prostate cancer research gives 24,000 Canadian men a fighting chance



TORONTO, ONTARIO, September 30, 2014:  Prostate Cancer Canada is in a race to give the approximately 24,000 Canadian men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year a better fighting chance.

In response to the urgent need to increase the pace of discovery, Prostate Cancer Canada just awarded a Translation Acceleration Grant (TAG) to a team led by Dr. Paul Rennie of the Vancouver Prostate Centre and the University of British Columbia.

The new compounds being developed with Prostate Cancer Canada funding have the potential of producing, in the words of group leader Dr. Rennie, “a whole new generation of drugs to deal with hormone resistance.” These drugs could potentially be used alone or in combination with other therapies to provide more effective and less toxic treatment of advanced prostate cancer.    
 
“This research team anticipates conducting human trials within three years,” says Dr. Stuart Edmonds, VP Research, Health Promotion and Survivorship, Prostate Cancer Canada. “This is the type of initiative that is meeting a critical demand, and giving renewed hope to prostate cancer patients.”  
 
Recent years have seen significant developments overall in the quality and precision of treatment, with a 40% reduction in mortality over the last 20 years. “However, many men continue to die of the disease. Most new treatments have been successful in prolonging the lives of late-stage prostate cancer patients but not saving lives,” says Dr. Edmonds. “Although many cases are slow growing and respond well to treatment, somewhere between 10% to 15%[1] [2] have aggressive cancer that spreads to other parts of the body, including vital organs. The stark reality is that prostate cancer accounts for the third-most cancer deaths for men, after lung and colorectal.”
 
Dr. Rennie’s group is developing compounds that target androgen receptors using different pathways than current therapies. The main function of androgen receptors is to bind with male hormones, but they also have the unfortunate ability to stimulate tumour growth -- which is why they are the target of many current prostate cancer therapies. The challenge has been that mutations or other modifications in the androgen receptors can reduce the ability of current therapies to bind and attack the tumour. The result can be less effective treatment and more toxic side-effects for the patients.
 
“In the last decade, there have been strides in the therapies for advanced state prostate cancer, with more options available when treatments fail,” says Dr. Bernie Eigl, medical oncologist, Clinical Associate Professor at UBC and Provincial Director of Clinical Trials at the B.C. Cancer Agency. “Right now, we’re in an acceleration phase. This is a critical time to sustain and build momentum for research.”
 
That’s why Dr. Edmonds is excited about the latest TAG award. To tackle the treatment challenge, the TAG team has assembled a world-class team of experienced investigators, with expertise in androgen receptors, drug design, pre-clinical pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, oral drug formulation, pharmacology and toxicology, and clinical trials. This TAG competition funds researchers developing new treatments to eliminate advanced prostate cancer with the potential to enter human clinical trials in the near future. Every year counts for a man facing prostate cancer.
 
This grant is one of two funded within this exciting program.
 
Prostate Cancer Canada develops, offers and funds innovative programs related to awareness and public education, advocacy, support of those affected, and research into the prevention, detection, treatment and cure of prostate cancer. For more information visit prostatecancer.ca and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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For more information:

Elissa Freeman                                           Holly Roy
For Prostate Cancer Canada                       For Prostate Cancer Canada
416.565.5605                                             780.991.2323
 
[1] Harvard School of Public Health quotes 10-15% figure (in 2nd paragraph)   http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/the-prostate-cancer-predicament/
[2] One large American study reported 17% of prostate cancers were aggressive : http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=3751



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