13 Feb 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Today the Movember Foundation and Prostate Cancer UK announce the launch of this country’s first ever Centres of Excellence programme in prostate cancer research.

The world-class Movember Centres of Excellence Programme in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK, comprises Belfast-Manchester and the London Consortium, and will see an injection of £10 million over a five year period – the largest single  investment into the disease by the partnership to date. The aim is to accelerate understanding of the disease through innovation, ensuring lab breakthroughs are translated into clinical benefits for men as quickly as possible. 

The two Centres will focus on the  burning questions in prostate cancer – understanding risk, distinguishing aggressive from non-aggressive disease, and developing better treatments for men with advanced tumours. These research ‘hubs’ will see outstanding teams of internationally recognised scientists from across different disciplines and with expert knowledge of other cancer types, working collaboratively to deliver answers. Although each Centre will have a distinct focus, both will have the overall aim of delivering personalised treatment for men.

Movember UK Country Manager Sarah Coghlan said, “Launching the Movember Centres of Excellence is one of the most significant and exciting milestones in the Movember Foundation’s history to date. Aligned with our focus on collaboration and working closely with our partner Prostate Cancer UK, we're bringing the best in the research world together for a sustained period to have a real impact and to develop real understanding of how to fight this disease. These Movember Centres of Excellence are the first of their kind in the UK focussed on prostate cancer, and they represent the Movember Foundation’s commitment to having an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. We salute every one of the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas in the UK. This wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “It is staggering to consider what we still don’t know about prostate cancer today, despite it being the most common cancer in men. Our centres programme is a game-changer. By bringing the key minds in prostate cancer research together, and supporting international collaboration, these world class hubs will catalyse innovation and discovery, their impact set to be far greater than the sum  of their parts. They will also provide a world-class training ground for the scientists of the future, building a legacy of top prostate cancer researchers in the UK and representing lasting hope for those who are affected by the disease now and for years to come.”

The Belfast-Manchester Centre will focus on improving the odds for men with advanced prostate cancer. Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, based at The University of Manchester, and clinicians at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, will work with clinicians and researchers at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University  Belfast. They will bring together their existing expertise in prostate cancer research and treatment, and crucial insights contributed  by experts in innovation in melanoma, breast and lung cancer research  to identify men at high risk of developing aggressive tumours, and assess  which patients will respond best to aggressive treatments and who might need aggressive therapy. They will also work on refining new and existing treatments to improve their efficacy for advanced prostate cancer.

Professor Richard Marais, Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute based at The University of Manchester – part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre, will be one of two Scientific Co-Directors of the Centre, alongside Professor David Waugh based at Queen’s University Belfast. Professor Richard Marais said, “This is very exciting for the future of prostate cancer research. We have established a unique collaboration that will bring together knowledge and insights from across different cancers and disciplines, which will enable us to tackle some of the complexities still surrounding this disease from a new perspective. Crucially, by working in partnership we also hope to increase the speed at which lab breakthroughs reach the man in the clinic and have a direct impact on patient outcomes.” 

Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast said, “The Belfast-Manchester Centre of Excellence provides a rare opportunity to bring together an international team of experts in radiation, biomarker discovery, genetic modeling and tumour biology who will use their individual talents in a collective and focused manner to make significant discoveries to benefit and extend the lives of men with prostate cancer. The scale and duration of funding available through the programme enables clinicians and scientists to tackle major clinical problems and more importantly, the longer time frame also enables the team to ensure that our scientific progress has a clear clinical line-of-sight, and that we can begin to apply this new knowledge into clinical practice – resulting in more immediate benefits for those affected. I am extremely excited about what we can achieve.”

The aim of  the London Centre of Excellence, led by Professor Johann de Bono, will be to identify the genetic basis of prostate cancers and use that as the basis for individualised treatment. Researchers at the centre will be based mainly at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, collaborating with colleagues at University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London. Together they will form a united front against prostate cancer. A particular emphasis  will be the search for gene signatures that can be used to identify men at high risk of aggressive disease and to optimise treatment choices based on each man’s genetic information. This is an extremely important avenue of investigation in the quest to identify men at risk of aggressive prostate cancer, while avoiding over-treatment of men with low-risk disease. In addition doctors and scientists at the London centre hope that they’ll be able to deliver new biomarkers to revolutionise prostate cancer medicine.

Professor Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said, “This is an incredible opportunity to work with an outstanding group of like-minded colleagues which could have a major impact on men suffering from this common disease. In many ways cancer research is like football –  teamwork is critical to success. The centre’s programme will allow us to bring together researchers that can fill key positions in our team and we envision that by working together, we can and will defeat prostate cancer.”

The Centres of Excellence were selected after a rigorous international peer review process. To qualify for Centre of Excellence funding, the lead scientists in the application had to have strong, international track records and their teams needed to demonstrate existing or planned cross-discipline collaborations between basic and clinical scientists.

ENDS

Full researcher biographies and additional quotes are available on request as well as further information about the Centres of Excellence programme.

For more information or interview please contact our Press Team

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