The role of cell regulation processes in the growth, progression and treatment resistance of prostate cancer.

University of CambridgeProfessor David Neal£43,8512011 - 2013

Why We Funded It:

This is a short project to test a new and innovative idea for developing new drugs against advanced prostate cancer, where there are currently very few treatment options for men. If successful, this work can be used to secure further funding to further develop treatments for advanced prostate cancer. It is vital to provide funding for research ideas at the very early stages - without these projects, we would never reach the point of a new successful drug becoming available for men living with advanced disease.


Scientific Title: The role of autophagy in the initiation, progression and recurrence of prostate cancer.


Research project summary:

This pilot study will test whether autophagy plays a role in the initiation, progression and recurrence of prostate cancer, and whether it provides protection against drug treatments. Autophagy is a 'clean-up' process that takes place in all cells (cancer and normal) to destroy old cells and unwanted components such as bacteria, parts of the cell which have become injured or damaged (for example following radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment), or cell components which are simply no longer needed.  The study will measure autophagic activity in human prostate cancer tissues at different stages of the disease, and also in a mouse model of the disease. Molecules which activate and inhibit autophagy will be tested at different stages of cancer progression, to see if progression of the cancer can be slowed or stopped by altering the amount of autophagic activity. This project ultimately plans to test if altering autophagy in prostate cancer at specific stages of the disease could help control its progression and increase its sensitivity to current treatments, such as Docetaxel. The information generated by this study could allow the development of new drugs capable of altering autophagy in prostate cancer for use alone, or in combination with existing drug treatments.

Want to see how our expert peer review panel rated this project?

See links below:


Peer reviewer quote

"The manipulation of autophagy for therapeutic benefit is understudied in prostate cancer. Furthermore, the roles of autophagy may be complex, promoting different outcomes at different stages of cancer. As autophagy manipulation is a burgeoning area for drug discovery and potential clinical application, this proposal is timely and may have real benefit, in the long term, for clinical treatment of prostate cancer."


RAC member quote

"Autophagy appears to play conflicting roles in prostate cancer and an understanding of when to use autophagy modulating drugs would benefit patients in the short-medium term."