Lab Canada

$5M supports prostate cancer research projects

Edmonton, AB – Three major research teams in Edmonton, Toronto and Sherbrooke will receive close to $5 million for projects that will help prevent the overtreatment of prostate cancer. The funding initiative was announced by Prostate Cancer Canada, and is focused on identifying prostate cancer patients who need to be treated aggressively and those who do not. The funding itself comes from the Movember Foundation.

“These grants will help to answer the question of who to treat and who to monitor,” says Rocco Rossi, president and CEO, Prostate Cancer Canada. “Within the decade men will have access to these tests and the knowledge they represent to make decisions that will maximize quality of life.”

The research projects, known as the Movember Translation Acceleration Grants (TAG), were awarded to teams at the University of Alberta, University of Toronto and l’Université de Sherbrooke whose work in this area was already showing great potential.

The researchers are:

  • John Lewis: Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research, University of Alberta, Edmonton. This research involves developing a simple blood test that can predict the onset of metastasis (spread of cancer) in those living with prostate cancer and better inform treatment decisions.
  • Bharati Bapat: Mount Sinai Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto. This project works to implement a simple biomarker-based test in the clinic, which will complement how prostate cancer is managed now and allow for accurate detection of aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Robert Day: L’Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke. This study will verify an enzyme-based diagnostic test that can tell if a cancer is low-risk or high-risk. This could result in earlier detection, which is potentially lifesaving, and for others it would represent a halt to unnecessary measures.

“We believe this research will play an important role during the diagnosis and follow-up for prostate cancer, says Dr. Lewis. “These tests could tell us if the patient is at high risk for developing aggressive metastatic disease or if that patient’s disease is in a benign state.

“During the course of this grant we will translate new tests in two stages: the initial stage we hope to be available clinically within three years; a blood test will be available in 5-10 years,” he says.

“We have identified new methods of obtaining a more precise diagnostic than ever before,” says Dr. Day. “We need to put this forth so that it is validated in a clinical context.”

“We want to develop a better clinical test using non-invasive methods that will distinguish up-front men with benign versus aggressive forms of disease,” says Dr. Bapat. “For example, a urine-based test could eliminate the need for unnecessary, invasive biopsies.”