11 December 2017

Monday 11 December 2017: Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) will invest $5 million in 2018, to fund prostate cancer research that might hold the key to the next breakthrough in the field.

This investment will support research to generate new knowledge in the fight against prostate cancer; research into improved application of existing drugs and treatments; and research focused on improving quality of life, thus improving the outcomes for 200,000 Australian men and their families currently living with prostate cancer, and ultimately, finding a cure for this insidious disease.

Our commitment to our community would not be possible without strong partnerships with leading Australian universities, medical colleges, collaborative clinical trials groups; individual clinicians and researchers; and our funding partners CAN4CANCER, Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, It’s a Bloke Thing Foundation and The Movember Foundation.

PCFA has funded research since its inception in 1995. With the long-term investment of our funding partners, we have been able to contribute towards the improvement of life expectancy post diagnosis and the quality of life of men with prostate cancer. Through new discoveries in detection, drugs and treatments, none of which would have been possible without research, the five-year relative survival for prostate cancer improved from 63% in 1989-93 to 95% in 2009-2013.  Our newly funded research consists on the following:


Clinician Scientist Award

Using DNA sequencing to improve outcomes in localised prostate cancer

Dr Niall Corcoran, University of Melbourne, VIC

An accurate estimate of the effect of treatments on a patient’s wellbeing would help predict the best management strategy for men with localised or advanced prostate cancer. Using tumour samples from patients, we will investigate new ways to predict disease outcomes and drug resistance using information from DNA sequencing.


New Concept Grants

Can exercise improve bowel function of prostate cancer patients?

Prof Robert Newton, Edith Cowan University, WA

The side effects of prostate cancer treatments can change the type of bacteria living in the gut, causing problems such as diarrhoea. This study will explore whether exercise can improve the gut bacteria of prostate cancer patients receiving hormone therapy. The project will ask if a 12-week exercise medicine program can improve the gut health.


Smart radiotherapy: killing more prostate cancer by stimulating immune responses

A/Prof Natalka Suchowerska, Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, NSW

Men with prostate cancer benefit from radiotherapy because their tumour is specifically targeted, minimising damage to the rest of the body. Previous studies showed that giving the radiation dose in a tight lattice pattern, with quickly changing high and low doses, leaves just enough cells struggling to stay alive that they signal each other and all die. This immune response has worked so well in the laboratory, we are planning to test this in a world-first clinical trial in Australia patients.


Harnessing the immune system to treat metastatic prostate cancer

Dr Michele Teng, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, QLD

Cancer immunotherapies use a patient's own immune system to fight the tumour. Dr Teng’s laboratory showed that combining an immunotherapy with a drug that prevents bone destruction worked effectively to suppress prostate cancer growth in mice. This study will ask how this drug combination has superior anti-cancer activity, and whether it can benefit men with advanced prostate cancer.


Discovery of new therapeutic targets for aggressive prostate cancer

Dr Brett Hollier, Queensland University of Technology, QLD

This project aims to discover new drug targets for neuroendocrine prostate cancer, a particularly aggressive form of this disease. Current clinical therapies are ineffective at inhibiting the growth and spread of this type of prostate cancer. This study aims to establish new strategies to specifically kill neuroendocrine prostate cancer.


John Mills Young Investigator Awards

Analyses of aggressive, early-stage prostate cancer

Dr Roxanne Toivanen, Monash University, VIC

Neuroendocrine prostate cancers are highly aggressive tumours that often arise when hormone therapies stop working. Some tumours have neuroendocrine cells present prior to hormone therapy. This study will investigate the properties of early-stage prostate cancers that have neuroendocrine cells, and compare them to the end-stage, lethal neuroendocrine tumours.


A new approach to prostate cancer treatment by targeting fats

Dr Zeyad Nassar, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, SA

Cancer cells use more energy than normal cells to grow, move and resist treatment. Fats are the main energy source for prostate cancer cells. The conversion of fats into energy is performed by specific enzymes. When these enzymes’ actions are enhanced, this can fuel tumour growth. This study aims to understand the role of an important enzyme in prostate cancer growth and therapy resistance.


Improving the effectiveness of the PSA test

Dr Srilakshmi Srinivasan, Queensland University of Technology, QLD

The current PSA test needs to be more effective and reliable. A personalised approach to modify this test could improve its effectiveness. This study will comprehensively analyse how an inherited factor affects PSA’s role in disease progression. The outcomes from this study may lead to a new type of PSA test that has the potential to save and improve the lives of men with prostate cancer.