A new research project, grant-funded by us as part of our £2.7 million Research Innovation Awards scheme, is trying to find new ways to stop cancer spreading to bones, one of the common problems with treating advanced prostate cancer.
We awarded the grant to researchers at the University of Sheffield who are working to understand the effect of exercise on preventing prostate cancer spreading to the bone.
There is a good reason for doing this: we know that exercise promotes bone formation, while cancer spread to the bone can cause damage and weaken bones. Dr Ning Wang, who is leading the project, hopes that promoting new bone cell growth can in turn prevent cancer cells spreading into the bone.
His team will test this by injecting prostate cancer cells containing a fluorescent dye into mice, and examine cancer growth in the bones at different stages to try to establish the best pattern and timing for exercise to prevent tumour spread.
If the researchers see an effect, they will compare different forms of exercise, such as time on a treadmill or high frequency vibration platform to try to establish a clear link between exercise and prevention of prostate cancer spread that could go on to be tested in men with the disease.
Dr Wang said: “When prostate cancer spreads it will more often than not go to the bones. This can be painful and incredibly hard to treat. We know that exercise benefits bone health, which we think could have the potential to prevent cancer cells from setting up camp in the bones.
“There’s no denying that exercise is good for us but it could prove to be especially beneficial for the thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and we’re delighted to be working with Prostate Cancer UK on this project.”
Our Research Innovation Awards scheme, announced last month, encourages researchers to develop ambitious research proposals, which challenge the status quo. Read more about the other projects we're funding through the Research Innovation Awards scheme. You can help us fund other game-changing research projects by signing up to March for Men today.