From the announcement of the world’s first precision medicine for prostate cancer to huge progress towards the development of a home urine test, 2019 was a very big year for research.

Human prostate cancer cells
6 Dec 2019

The last year saw the announcement of the world’s first precision medicine for prostate cancer and huge progress towards the development of a home urine test. Just some of the things that made 2019 one of the most innovative years in prostate cancer research history. 

Here’s a look back at some of the huge leaps you made happen.

Setting the tone with a funding milestone

In January, at the Research Innovation Awards we awarded £3 million to eight teams of ambitious UK scientists to tackle areas ranging from reinventing the PSA test to developing a cancer-killing virus.

The milestone? This round of funding took us past a staggering £50 million investment into prostate cancer research since we began in 1993.

Adding years of life for men with advanced prostate cancer

In June, and for the third time in four years, researchers found a new treatment option which helps men live longer with advanced prostate cancer when combined with hormone therapy. With similar effects to existing drugs, enzalutamide provides a crucial alternative for some men who can’t have these other treatment options.

Reducing side effects with targeted treatments

Focal therapy aims to kill the cancer while leaving healthy tissues untouched. We announced £500,000 of funding for a focal therapy pilot trial. Our trial could help prove focal therapy effectively treats the cancer, while sparing men from common side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

Using genes to personalise treatment: first precision medicine for prostate cancer

Research presented at the ESMO conference in October showed the drug, olaparib, could prevent prostate cancer from progressing in men with certain DNA mutations in their cancer. This is a landmark achievement.

That’s because it has the potential to be the world’s first ever precision medicine for prostate cancer, where genetic information about men’s cancer is used to give the most effective treatment for them.

Training the immune system to fight prostate cancer

To beat prostate cancer, we need to push boundaries with innovative research that tackles the disease from new angles. We pledged to invest £2 million in research into immunotherapies, treatments which train men’s immune systems to fight the cancer themselves.

One of our researchers, Professor Helen McCarthy, is blazing her own immunotherapy trail, with her prostate cancer vaccine.

Another huge step towards a home urine test

In the final weeks of this year, an at-home urine test hit the headlines. Research showed it had the potential to spot aggressive prostate cancer from disease that doesn’t need treatment, to help reduce hospital visits for men monitoring their disease on active surveillance. Now, Prostate Cancer UK and Movember are funding the follow-on research to use the test in more men, and bring it one step closer to changing lives.

Onwards into 2020

In the year to come, we’ll be building on this year’s breakthroughs, using our influencing expertise to help bring new treatments like olaparib to men. With millions of pounds of our research projects set to begin next year we'll fund the most innovative ideas to accelerate improvements for men. For better diagnosis, better treatments and better prevention. Here’s to a happy new year, filled with more research breakthroughs to help stop prostate cancer being a killer.

 

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