We were hugely excited to launch the Movember Centres of Excellence in partnership with the Movember Foundation in February 2014.

Throughout the world, centres of excellence bring leading researchers across different scientific disciplines together to tackle important unanswered questions and move research towards patient benefit as quickly as possible. 

What it's all about

Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Owen Sharp, Director of Research Dr Iain Frame and Sarah Coghlan, Movember UK Country Director sat down to talk about the Movember Centres of Excellence and how they will change the future for men with prostate cancer.

Addressing the big questions

Movember and Prostate Cancer UK opened the first such centres in the UK in February 2014. These centres, based in Belfast-Manchester and London, bring together groups of scientists and clinicians with different areas of expertise to address the big questions in prostate cancer research-– from basic biology to inside the clinic - as part of a structured research programme.

Bringing experts together

As well as bringing together expert researchers and clinicians, the Movember Centres of Excellence 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, as well as establishing international collaborations for the brightest minds to tackle the most important questions in prostate cancer research – now and into the future.

Belfast-Manchester Centre of Excellence

This Centre of Excellence is split across two cities, with a hospital-research lab partnership in each place. In Manchester, clinicians at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, a leading cancer treatment centre with a strong track record in radiotherapy research and treatment as well as in hosting early stage clinical trials, will work with scientists from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and The University of Manchester.

The CRUK Manchester Institute is a leading cancer research institute within The University of Manchester, spanning the whole spectrum of cancer research - from investigating the molecular and cellular basis of cancer, to translational research and the development of therapeutics. 

The Belfast half of this Centre of Excellence is based at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast, who specialise in stratified medicine (tailoring treatments to the patient groups who will respond best) and Biomarker discovery – identifying gene and protein signatures of risk and response to therapy.

These two institutes are uniting against prostate cancer – bringing their existing expertise in prostate cancer research and treatment, as well as insights from other cancer types – to revolutionise the way that prostate cancer research is carried out in the UK

What's the focus of their research?

Most of the research at the Belfast-Manchester Centre of Excellence will focus on recurrent prostate cancer.  Around 2,000 men are diagnosed with recurrent prostate cancer after radiotherapy in the UK each year, and the Centre of Excellence will focus on identifying which men are more likely to be susceptible to recurrent disease in advance of their primary treatment. They’ll then aim to prevent recurrence by improving and refining radiotherapy treatments. By identifying men at high risk of recurrence, the scientists hope also to find those men at low risk, who may be spared more extreme therapy.  The scientists at the Belfast-Manchester Centre of Excellence will also try to find which men with recurrent prostate cancer will respond best to the various chemotherapy treatments that are available.

London Centre of Excellence

The London Centre of Excellence is based predominantly at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), one of the world’s leading cancer research institutes, which works in close partnership with the Royal Marsden hospital.  Together, these institutions have an impeccable track record of taking laboratory discoveries – especially in the areas of cancer genetics and cancer drug discovery – into the clinic.

As part of this centre, scientists and clinicians at the ICR and Royal Marsden have strengthened their team further by drawing in leading prostate cancer researchers at University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London to form a united front against prostate cancer.

What’s the focus of their research?

The overall focus of the London Centre of Excellence will be identifying the genetic basis of prostate cancer. A particular focus here 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, and scientists and doctors at the London Centre hope that they’ll be able to deliver new biomarkers to revolutionise prostate cancer medicine as part of this award.

The London Centre of Excellence intends to build on their existing expertise and previous experience in genetic studies and drug development to translate these discoveries into clinical trials and new therapy options and diagnostic tools as soon as possible.