Last week I went along to see three of our researchers here at The Institute of Cancer Research talk about their work as part of Movember’s London Centre of Excellence for Prostate Cancer. At a scientific seminar – followed by a public lecture – at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, they discussed how the new centre, funded by Movember and Prostate Cancer UK, is helping to drive new treatments for prostate cancer.
The London Centre of Excellence is a research hub that brings together leading scientists from the ICR, our hospital partner The Royal Marsden, University College London and Imperial College London. The centre is led by Professor Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine here at the ICR in London and an honorary consultant at The Royal Marsden.
At the event, Professor de Bono laid out two of the centre’s overall aims: to discover new ways of minimising unnecessary treatment, and to find new treatments for men with prostate cancer. His colleague Professor Ros Eeles, an expert in the genetic factors behind prostate cancer risk, discussed her hope of using genetic analysis in the future to help diagnose men at increased prostate cancer risk while minimising treatment for those who may not need it.
Dr Gerhardt Attard discussed a key focus of his research, which is to improve the understanding of what drives drug resistance – when cancer changes genetically and treatments against it become ineffective. Last week a study he led alongside Professor de Bono showed how ‘liquid biopsies’, based on analysing cancer DNA circulating in the blood, could reveal when a cancer treatment stops working and actually becomes a driver of disease.
The lecture also included presentations from Professor Charlotte Bevan from Imperial, who explained the role of male sex hormones in the growth of prostate cancer, and Professor Mark Emberton from University College London, who spoke about the potential of MRI scans in early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
We also heard from a cancer patient called Ian Liston, who gave a very honest and moving account of his own experience of prostate cancer – and his “best decision I ever made” to participate in clinical trials of new potential treatments. You can hear Mr Liston speak about his own experience in this short ITV interview.
After the lectures, the audience had the opportunity to ask the researchers questions. The event was an excellent opportunity to learn more about some important new developments in prostate cancer research – and the potential our research has to improve the lives of men with the disease.
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