Building a database of prostate cancer genetic information

We’ve awarded Professor Johann de Bono at The Institute of Cancer Research in London £103,923 to recruit a PhD student. The student will gather and analyse the masses of genetic data available from prostate cancer patients’ biopsy and blood samples to work out which treatments, and which clinical trials, might work best for him.

There is an enormous amount of information contained in the entirety of our genetic material. You can find out what genes are turned on or off in any particular cell type at any given time, what controls whether these genes are active or not, which bits of the DNA can interact with other bits of DNA or proteins, not to mention whether there are mutations in particular genes that affect how they work, and therefore how the cell behaves. This PhD student will gather and analyse data like this from biopsies and blood samples from prostate cancer patients. The aim is to work out what genetic changes occur as the cancer develops.

This information will be built into a huge database, which can then be used to help work out which patients would be most suitable for which type of treatment or clinical trial, based on the genetic information contained in their particular cancer.

As well as being of benefit to individual patients, the database will be useful when it comes to designing new prostate cancer drugs. This is because the size of database will make it possible to look for trends at a population level. For example what genetic changes are common to a large number of men with advanced prostate cancer, or what genes are most likely to be turned on or off in advanced prostate cancer? Enabling researchers to see a ‘big picture’ pattern of prostate cancer development such as this is essential for them to design treatments to combat it.

Grant information

Researcher - Professor Johann de Bono
Institution - Institute of Cancer Research
Grant award - £103,923
Reference - TLD-S15-006
PhD student - George Seed