Grants for BC researchers recognize new prostate cancer discoveries

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 57, No. 7, September 2015, Page 278 News

Three BC research teams have received Movember Discovery Grants from the Movember Foundation through Prostate Cancer Canada to build on innovative prostate cancer research projects covering a wide breadth of areas.

Dr Alexander Wyatt, Dr Kim Chi, and their team at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute will build on their previous work, analyzing DNA from the blood of patients with advanced prostate cancer. They will determine whether the presence or absence of particular genetic changes can predict if and how patients will respond to treatment to help explain why some cancers are drug resistant, and they will guide the development of a test to help select the best treatment for individual patients.

Dr Cheryl Helgason and her team at the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria is focused on RNA that is not able to produce proteins. Dr Helgason’s team discovered that one such RNA (PCAT18) is present at much higher levels in metastatic prostate cancer, and they will assess this RNA to determine whether disabling it blocks the growth of cancer cells, and whether measuring its presence can be used as a diagnostic tool to complement or replace PSA testing.

Dr Julian Lum, Dr Brad Nelson, and their team at the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria will focus on immunotherapy. The treatment for high-risk cases of prostate cancer is often hormone therapy paired with radiation treatment. The team has discovered that 30% of patients treated this way develop an immune response, and 71% of these patients have a shorter time-to-cancer relapse. This finding suggests that hormone therapy and radiation can lead to detrimental immune responses that may result in an earlier relapse. The team will explore how and why hormone and radiation therapy cause detrimental immune responses and test immunotherapeutic approaches that are able to reverse this outcome.

Eleven additional research teams working out of a number of universities and health care institutions across Canada also received the grant. Each grant is worth up to $200 000.

For more information about the Movember Foundation, visit For more information about Prostate Cancer Canada visit

. Grants for BC researchers recognize new prostate cancer discoveries. BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 7, September, 2015, Page(s) 278 - News.

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