Personalising treatment for prostate cancer patients

Cambridge scientists have received two out of seven new prostate cancer awards from the charity Prostate Cancer Research Centre (PCRC).

Dr Harveer Dev and Dr Jorge de la Rosa have received separate awards to tackle prostate cancer in different ways, coming through a tough application process which included patient and expert reviews.

Harveer Dev is an academic urologist and member of the Urological Malignancies Programme. He cares for prostate cancer patients in the clinic but also conducts cutting-edge scientific research in the lab. His research is aiming to understand why some prostate cancer patients are resistant to treatment and how to overcome this.

Harveer will use the new funding award to create an exciting new tool called ProCASP which is a prostate cancer CRISPR-Cas9 dynamic screening platform. He will work with fellow Centre members Charlie Massie, Vincent Gnanapragasam and Steve Jackson to establish the new platform.

Once established it is hoped this will enable the identification, stratification and early intervention of early high-risk prostate cancers.

“We are very excited about this exciting cross-disciplinary study, that will hopefully enable us to learn about fundamental biological processes operating within prostate cancer, and move us a step closer towards delivering personalised care,” said Harveer.

Jorge de la Rosa has received a PCRC Pilot Award to develop new genetic tools that will mimic the development of human prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer kills 30 people a day in the UK, and could kill 50 men a day by 2035.

The awards are part of a larger, £2.3 million investment in research by PCRC. The prostate charity focuses on funding research and innovation into prostate cancer, particularly advanced prostate cancer, which is what kills. 

The recent funding injection will boost the amount spent on prostate cancer research in the UK by 10% at a time when overall prostate cancer research funding is decreasing, even though the disease is likely to affect more and more men in coming years.

Dr Naomi Elster, PCRC’s Research Manager, said “Cambridge has a long-standing, international reputation for excellent science, and these two projects will only add to that. Learning more about how PTEN drives cancers to grow and spread and about which men are most likely to respond well to drugs which damage cancer DNA could make big improvements to how we treat prostate cancer.”

9 Oct 2019