Researcher - Dr Alastair Lamb
Institution - University of Cambridge
Grant award - £36,396.00
Reference - PA14-022

In a nutshell

This research project involves taking prostate cancer tissue from men who are having surgery and then growing that tissue in mice to help the researchers better understand how individual prostate cancers behave and which treatments they respond to.

Why we funded it

At the moment, there are only small amounts of patient tissue available for research, so we have to be very careful about what experiments we use it for. If researchers can grow more tissue from individual patients, we can do more experiments to help us understand more about the nature of prostate cancer, how it starts, why it returns sometimes, how it grows and how and when it becomes resistant to drugs. Although we can sometimes use mouse tissue as a model of what’s going on in human diseases, mouse and human prostate cancers are slightly different – which is why we have to test new drugs in clinical trials even though they’ve been tested in mice. The closer we can get our model to look like a real-life human tumour – and allowing human tumour tissue to grow in a mouse is about the closest we can get - the more detailed questions we can ask, and the more certain we can be that the conclusions we draw will hold true in patients. The best bit is that this system should represent an individual man’s cancer, so as well as understanding more about cancer in general, this system should let us test how well particular treatments work for an individual man.

Progress so far (Year 1 of 2) 

At the end of Year 1, Dr Lamb and his team have taken tissue from two further men with prostate cancer and have grown this tissue in mice. The tissue has been removed from the mice and is awaiting analysis. 

Earlier this year Dr Lamb accepted a one-year Fellowship on the robotic treatment of prostate cancer in Australia. As such, the project will be put on hold until Dr Lamb returns back to the UK. The project is due to re-commence in Spring 2017.