The world's first precision medicine for prostate cancer

The world's first precision medicine for prostate cancer

For too long men with prostate cancer have been treated with a 'one size fits all' approach despite the knowledge that all prostate cancers are different and respond differently to different treatments. This means that currently most treatments will only benefit some men. With the help of supporters like you, we funded a project that catalogued the differences in men's prostate cancers and identified a group of men with gene mutations in a process called DNA damage repair. This led to the development of the world's first precision medicine for prostate cancer, olaparib.  

Olaparib, a very effective drug for women with ovarian and breast cancer, was tested in men with prostate cancer and shown to extend lives in men with DNA damage repair mutations by 4.4 months. We're now working to ensure men are tested for DNA damage mutations to see if they're suited to this treatment.

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Dr Joaquin Mateo
Prostate Cancer UK’s funding was critical to allow us to start selecting patients who would benefit from treatment. That was huge.
Dr Joaquin Mateo

From research idea to access for all


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Precision medicine aims to treat a man based on characteristics or mutations specific to his prostate cancer. Mutations in a genes involved in a process called DNA damage repair,  which includes the BRCA genes, were a great place to start.

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Lab research

We've funded a number of projects investigating how the DNA damage repair process can go wrong in prostate cancer cells and how a treatment called PARP inhibition can be used to treat prostate cancers with these mutations. 

We funded researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research to develop a test to select the best treatment, including PARP inihibition, for a man with prostate cancer based on his individual cancer and genetics.

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Clinical trials

Work we funded provided crucial evidence to launch a large clinical trial into the use of PARP inhibition for men with prostate cancer. The TOPARP trial showed that men with mutations in their DNA damage repair pathways responded to treatment with the PARP inhibitor olaparib.

We then funded the team at the Institute of Cancer Research to further investigate samples taken from men on the trial, looking for markers to identify men who respond well to PARP inhibition. 

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Approved for use

Tests are now available to identify men who have cancers with the relevant mutations.

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Access for all

Olaparib is currently only available for men in Scotland with advanced prostate cancer who have known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. We're working with decision makers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to make it available to all men in the UK with DNA damage repair pathway mutations. 

What's next?

We've continued to fund projects to understand which men could benefit from PARP inhibition and drugs like olaparib. We've also funded a number of projects into understanding the biology of prostate cancer to enable more precision medicines to be developed.

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With your help we can give men more time

You can help us fund vital research to enable more precision medicines to be developed so we can give men more options and more precious time with loved ones. 

Join the fight