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Bursting the bubble on prostate cancer

John Callan Researceher
Professor John Callan

Grant Information

Institution - University of Ulster
Lead Researcher - Professor John Callan
Grant Award - £250,950
Duration of Funding - 2019-2023
Status – Active
Reference  - RIA18-ST2-003

We’re thrilled to have found a brand-new combination treatment that could offer men a new treatment after current techniques have stopped working.
Professor John Callan

Why did we fund this project?

  • Powerful chemotherapy drugs can kill prostate cancer cells, but they also damage healthy cells in other organs, leading to side effects. Targeting drugs directly to cancer cells could help reduce these effects.
  • Professor Callan is aiming to target cancer cells directly by storing drugs in packets called microbubbles.
  • These ‘bubbles’ can be ‘popped’ by an ultrasound wave, which can be targeted at the prostate so the drug is released only near the cancer cells.
  • This means less of the drug reaches healthy cells in other organs, reducing side effects.
  • The team are particularly interested in how this might benefit men whose prostate cancer has returned. When this happens, treatments like surgery and radiotherapy can be used to contain the cancer, but these aren’t always effective and can cause lots of side effects.
  • An effective, targeted therapy could help control cancer and reduce the prolonged impact of treatment.

Project in a nutshell

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• In this project, John and team will find out how effective their new treatment is at killing prostate cancer, and whether it’s better than existing treatments for prostate cancer that has come back.
• They’ll also investigate the safety of the treatment, and how it affects other organs, to understand whether delivering drugs in this way will reduce side effects.
• This work will help the team build a case to test their new treatment in men with prostate cancer.

What do the team hope to achieve?

• The team aim to demonstrate that this exciting new way of targeting treatment is effective at killing cancer cells, is safe, and causes fewer side effects in models of prostate cancer.
• They aim to gather the evidence they need to take this treatment into clinical trials, to test how it works in men with prostate cancer.

How will this benefit men?

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• This work could lead to a new, powerful way of treating men with prostate cancer, with reduced side effects.
• If this project is successful, clinical trials will then help to determine how effective this treatment is. This could lead to a pioneering treatment becoming available to men with prostate cancer.

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