Precision medicine for advanced prostate cancer

Every man’s prostate cancer is different, for example some cancers are more aggressive than others or respond to different types of treatment better. In other types of cancer, doctors can look for certain ‘biomarkers’, like genes or proteins, to predict which treatments would work best. However, this kind of ‘precision medicine’ does not currently exist for prostate cancer. This project aims to find and test biomarkers for prostate cancer that can be used by doctors to give precise treatments to men with prostate cancer.

The team will use tumour and blood samples previously collected in a large, nationwide trial called STAMPEDE, which tested the effects of combining different treatments with hormone therapy for advanced prostate cancer. In this new study, the researchers will look for biomarkers in the samples which were related to how well each man responded to the treatment he received.

At the same time, the researchers will run a preliminary clinical trial to test their theory that biomarkers can predict which men will respond best to a certain treatment. They will study a drug called a PARP inhibitor, which is already known to work best for ovarian and breast cancer patients with specific genetic biomarkers, and they will test whether the drug works for men with these biomarkers.

Finally, the researchers will combine both parts of the project in the STAMPEDE trial, with men assigned a treatment depending on which of the identified biomarkers they have.

If the project is successful, the team should have a better understanding of how to predict which men will respond best to which treatments, based on biomarker tests. In the long run, this could be used by doctors to only give men treatments that are likely to work, reducing the amount of unnecessary side effects and maximising treatment benefit.

Grant information

Reference - MA-PM16-001
Researcher - 
Professor Gerhardt Attard
Institution - University College London