We discovered the drug abiraterone – the first treatment shown to be effective in men with advanced prostate cancer. For these men, whose cancer has stopped responding to other types of hormone therapy but who haven't yet had chemotherapy, abiraterone has been shown to significantly extend life.
Abiraterone has been available on the NHS since 2012 and could benefit more than 10,000 British men with prostate cancer each year.
We’ve long been at the forefront of precision cancer medicine, which gives individual patients the best treatments according to the genetic profile of their cancer.
One recent example is the drug olaparib, currently used to treat ovarian cancer, whose development was underpinned by our research. Trials led by Professor Johann de Bono have shown that olaparib could also work in prostate cancer, for men whose tumours have mutations in specific genes.
Professor Ros Eeles analyses DNA from hundreds of thousands of men with and without prostate cancer to try to find genetic clues about the disease. Her team has found around 100 genetic factors that influence a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer, or developing a more aggressive form.
These DNA coding differences give researchers clues to follow that will illuminate the disease’s biology, and could lead to new treatments.
Professor David Dearnaley led the recent CHHiP trial, which showed that fewer, larger doses of radiotherapy are just as effective as the standard regime – sparing patients the inconvenience of unnecessary hospital appointments, and reducing the rate of side-effects.
He is also looking at the influence of gut bacteria on side-effects, as X-rays used during treatment kill many of the ‘good bacteria’ in the gut that help with digestion.
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