Overcoming treatment resistance

Overcoming treatment resistance

Thanks to your support we were able to fund a team based at Queens University Belfast to work out what happens to cancer cells when they are treated with either radiotherapy, chemotherapy or androgen deprivation therapy.

We know that treatments for prostate can be very effective, but for a number of men their prostate cancer can become resistant to treatment and start to grow again. With your support we funded a team of researchers to investigate how cancer cells become resistant to therapy. The ultimate goal of this type of research is to develop new treatments that overcome this resistance keeping cancer under control for longer and extending lives of men with prostate cancer.

The team, led by Professor David Waugh, discovered that when cancer cells die, they send a signal to surrounding cells urging the surviving cells to grow and divide to replace the dying cells. By investigating how dying cells signal to their neighbouring cells the team were able to test a kind of molecular headphone so neighbouring cells become deaf to the growth signals released by the dying cells. This stops them replacing dying cancer cells. Thanks to your continued support the team of researchers are now testing their new therapy in a clinical trial.


David Waugh Researcher
Professor David Waugh
Overcoming treatment resistance

From research idea to access for all


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Despite responding well to treatment we know that too many men will become resistant and their prostate cancer will start to grow again. By understanding what happens to cells when they are exposed to cancer treatment researchers hope to develop new ways of maintaining cancer control. 


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Lab research

The team treated prostate cancer cells grown in a lab with different prostate cancer treatments and studied in detail what the cells did in response to those treatments. They discovered the cells killed by the treatment released a signal that encouraged the remaining cells to grow and went on to understand how to block that growth signal.

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Clinical trial

The team collaborated with the world leading team of clinical trialists based at the Institute of Cancer Research to test the new treatment. Results of the trial were presented in 2023. The team showed that in some men the new treatment shrunk their tumours, dramatically decreased their PSA level or the levels of tumour cells circulating in their blood dropped. 


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The first clinical trial showed that men who had the new treatment in combination with the drug enzalutamide has no serious side effects. The team are now running a second, larger trial to determine which dose is gives the best response with the least side effects and to gather evidence that this new treatment really is keeping cancer under control for longer

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Access for all

Results from early studies in men are very promising and could open up a whole new way of treating men with advanced prostate cancer. The next steps are to expand the clinical trials and try this new form of treatment in larger groups of men to make sure it is safe and to understand which men will benefit the most. 

What's next?

We've continued to fund ambitious and transformational research. Read on to find out about new and exciting projects including how bubbles are being used to deliver drugs to cancer cells.

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A blood test to select best treatment for men with early-stage disease

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Bursting the bubble on prostate cancer

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Developing a pioneering new drug

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With your help we can beat prostate cancer, together

You can raise funds and awareness to stop prostate cancer limiting lives by signing up to our latest fundraising challenge.

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