Welcome to the first newsletter for the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC). We will be issuing a newsletter four times a year to keep our patients, donors and community up to date and informed about our progress.
Prostate Cancer DNA Test Uses Small Blood Sample, Predicts Response to Drug
New tools developed at the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC) are substantially advancing the possibility of offering precise, personalized therapies to effectively treat treatment-resistant prostate cancer, also known as metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
Detailed in a recently published paper in JAMA Oncology, VPC researchers have discovered a method for testing prostate cancer DNA from a small blood sample, making it possible to retrieve exact information about how the cancer is genetically changing and helping determine the type of treatment best suited to treat it at that moment.
“There exists an urgent need to be able to monitor a patient’s cancer in real time and to select the most appropriate treatment option based on the cancer’s genetic make-up,” explains Dr. Kim Chi, study senior author and associate director of clinical research at the VPC, which is a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research hosted by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Insti tute and the University of British Columbia.
The past five years have seen an explosion in the number of novel therapies for mCRPC. Enzalutamide, one of the drugs that emerged in that time, is part of a class of agents known as androgen receptor inhibitors that have powerful effects on prostate tumours and significantly prolong life expectancy in men with mCRPC. However, patients inevitably become resistant to the drug. How and why this happens is not yet well understood.
In response to this phenomenon, the study’s first author Dr. Alexander Wyatt, Dr. Chi, and their VPC colleagues sought to find a way to develop biomarkers to be able to identify which drugs should be used in a given patient at a given time and to find what exactly is fuelling therapy resistance.
Dr. Alex Wyatt
The Future of Prostate Cancer Research
London-born Dr. Alex Wyatt joined the VPC in 2011 as a post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Colin Collins. Today he is a faculty member amassing an impressive track record of funding and accolades. Most recently he was awarded one of three Rising Star awards from Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC). With its men's health partner, Movember, PCC announced the prostate cancer research grants in January of this year. Now in its fourth year, the Rising Star award recognizes outstanding new prostate cancer researchers and supports their pursuit of groundbreaking research. Funded by Movember and selected by PCC, Dr. Wyatt will receive approximately $450,000 over three years.
His work focuses mainly on lethal treatment-resistant prostate cancer, particularly on aggressive early-stage forms of the disease. A self-described ‘genomics guy’, Dr. Wyatt is looking at mechanisms of highly aggressive cancer through the lens of genetic information, usually garnered from surgical and liquid samples from the newly upgraded biobank at the Centre. He also has another research stream in neuroendocrine prostate cancer, working with Drs. Colin Collins and Martin Gleave to understand how this aggressive disease variant arises. The trio recently identified a gene that can promote this type of prostate cancer and are now developing tools to target this gene. Additionally, Dr. Wyatt was first author on a recent publication describing the development of a new method for testing prostate cancer DNA from a small blood sample, making it possible to retrieve exact information about how the cancer is genetically changing and helping determine the type of treatment best suited to treat it at that moment.
With bright stars like Dr. Wyatt in our corner, we have no doubt that the VPC will continue to lead the way for Canada in clinical outputs and translational research.
RESOURCES + INFORMATION
Prostate cancer is still the most common male cancer in Canada and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men. Within our country’s aging baby boomer population, prostate cancer cases will continue to increase and threaten longevity and quality of life. That is why our researchers work tirelessly to understand and ultimately control the disease.
AWARDS + ACCOLADES
We want you to know what is happening at our Centre. We have amassed several achievements in the last 6 months.
Dr. Mads Daugaard: Malaria protein shows potential as cancer treatment
The VPC’s Drs. Claudia Chavez-Munoz and Alan So received the inaugural Bladder Cancer Canada Research Grant valued at $50,000.
Making A Difference
In February of 2016, ten of our VPC’s most active members participated as two teams in the Step Up Challenge, racing up the stairs at five Vancouver skyscrapers. The 21 teams entered raised over $125,000 for Prostate Cancer Canada.
TECHNOLOGY AND EXPERTISE ALIGN, RESULTING IN NOVEL POTENTIAL TREATMENT FOR LETHAL PROSTATE CANCER
A potential therapeutic for advanced prostate cancer developed at the Vancouver Prostate Centre by Drs. Artem Cherkasov and Paul Rennie has been licensed to pharmaceutical company Roche, marking UBC’s largest licensing agreement to date. A major story appeared in the Vancouver Sun in December of 2015.
Groundbreaking publication on AACR's most-cited list for 2014
The groundbreaking personalized oncology publication led by Drs. Wang and Collins, High fidelity patient- derived xenografts for accelerating prostate cancer discovery and drug development, is one of AACR's most-cited articles from 2014. This Cancer Research publication was posed in this website's News section on January 27, 2014 .
The recently published "The Best of the AACR Journals” is a collection of the most-cited articles published in 2014 across the AACR journal portfolio. This paper is one of four most-sited research articles, based on the total number of citations from date of publication through January 2016. "The Best of the AACR Journals" is available online by clicking here; or can be viewed as PDF here (4 MB, opens in new window).
Drs. Michael Cox & Emma Tomlinson Guns published the prestigious Nature journal: "Oral simvastatin administration delays castration-resistant progression and reduces intratumoral steroidogenesis of LNCaP prostate cancer xenografts" was the featured article at the online edition of Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.