03 May 2018

Prostate Cancer Metastasis (ProMis): New Opportunities for Therapeutic Development

Professor Peter Croucher from Garvan Institute of Medical Research and his team have found that cancer cells hide in particular sites inside the bone and have discovered a number of genes that are important in controlling the behaviour of these dormant cells when they arrive in the bone. Many of these genes are able to control the way our immune system responds to these cancer cells. Importantly, the team also found that cells that normally break down bone may also inadvertently release prostate cancer cells from being dormant and cause them to form actively growing cancers in the skeleton.

The team is now testing two new types of treatment to stop prostate cancer cells growing in the skeleton. The first will switch on the immune system in order to use the body’s own natural defence system to target tumour cells and restrict their growth in the skeleton. The second will use treatments that stop bone cells from releasing the prostate cancer cells from a dormant state in the skeleton. Importantly, these types of treatments are already available to treat other diseases, so the Croucher team will also test the ability of these drugs to stop the growth of prostate cancer cells in a series of clinical trials.

This is a Movember Revolutionary Team Award and a three-year grant was awarded in 2014. It was further extended for an additional two years in 2017 to make it a five-year grant, as there were major progress made by the team and an extension would enable them to deliver outcomes.