With prostate cancer now the third biggest cancer killer, it is clearer than ever that we need big leaps forward in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of this disease. That’s why we’re delighted to be awarding £2.7 million to UK scientists to fund some of the most exciting and revolutionary ideas through our Research Innovation Awards.

6 Mar 2018

These awards will support seven dedicated scientists to take their trailblazing research one step closer to stopping prostate cancer being a killer.

One such researcher is Professor Helen McCarthy from Queen’s University Belfast. She is developing a vaccine against prostate cancer that can be given through a needleless patch on the skin. This exciting project is building on work done by a PhD student we have supported, who developed the patch to get the vaccine into the cells more efficiently.

The vaccine works by inserting genetic material known as mRNA, which encodes proteins linked to prostate cancer and triggers a reaction from the immune system. This has the potential to recruit the immune system to attack an existing tumour or even prevent cancer from developing in the first place. We have awarded over £275,000 to the researchers, who hope that by the end of this study the vaccine will be ready for safety trials in men.

Professor McCarthy commented: “This new vaccine has tremendous potential – we’ve already seen that it can trigger an immune response and we’ve developed a reliable way for it to reach the immune cells. We now need to pull all the pieces of the puzzle together, which is why this grant from Prostate Cancer UK is so important. This trial will enable us to test both the method for delivering the mRNA vaccine as well as how effective it is at shrinking the prostate tumours in practice.”

This truly exciting research has the potential to transform the way we view prostate cancer and we wouldn’t be able to fund this kind of research without the dedication of our supporters.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “The need for research into prostate cancer is greater than ever. However, pioneering research like this from Professor McCarthy has the potential to change the game. If the researchers can prove that this vaccine can reverse prostate cancer cell growth, we’re not only looking at a potential new treatment but also a possible solution which could prevent prostate cancer from developing in the first place.”

Our other new grants include:

Dr Jennifer Munkley, University of Newcastle, £346,000: Using sugars on cancer cells to improve prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Ning Wang, University of Sheffield, £199,000: Can exercise prevent prostate cancer spread?

Dr Alison Tree, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, £574,000: Can targeted radiotherapy to cancer hotspots prolong effectiveness of hormone therapy?

Dr Jayne Tierney, University College London, £465,000: Quickly identifying which treatments work best for advanced prostate cancer.

Professor Claire Lewis and Dr Janet Brown, University of Sheffield, £397,000: Reprogramming immune cells to fight back against cancer regrowth.

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