As part of our Research Innovation Awards, we’re funding Professor Claire Lewis at the University of Sheffield to see if it's possible to train men’s own immune systems to fight back at prostate cancer and prevent it from returning. She explains the fascinating 'Trojan horse' science behind this new example of Immunotherapy research.
Our immune system is in charge of protecting our bodies from harm, including cancer. But in prostate cancer, some immune cells can go rogue and start protecting the prostate cancer instead of the man. These can help the disease come back, even after men have endured treatments like radiotherapy.
Now, for the first time ever, Professor Claire Lewis and her team are reprogramming these 'gone-bad' cells, to get them back fighting on the side of men.
“This is fantastically exciting for us to work on,” says Professor Lewis says about the project, “because it will generate a new type of treatment that’s never been attempted before. We think it will radically alter the way men with prostate cancer are treated.”
She’ll use tiny particles, called liposomes, that act like a Trojan horse to sneak her reprogramming message into the immune cells, re-training them to fight the prostate cancer.
Alongside standard treatments, her new drug could not only stop the prostate cancer at the time, but protect men for many more years to come.
“We hope that by combining our new immunotherapy with existing treatments, we’ll be able to reassure men that now we’re thinking in the long term about their treatment, not just the short term,” says Professor Lewis.
The project is part of our £2.7 million Research Innovation Awards scheme, dedicated to supporting the most pioneering and innovative research that has the potential to transform the lives of men. For Professor Lewis, that’s what matters most.
“It’s no good just having ideas in the lab, with scientists sitting around thinking about how we can develop new treatments,” she says. “By approaching a charity like Prostate Cancer UK, we can get our work funded quickly to find out if it could be of real benefit to men with prostate cancer.”
It’s the support from people like you that allow us to fund the ambitious research that no one else will. By donating today, you can help us keep funding game-changing research like this that will tame prostate cancer once and for all.