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Research overview

Professor Johann de Bono, Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group

The Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group (PCTTG) is one of the most recognized and a world leader in running prostate cancer clinical trials. It specialises in developing new therapies to improve the treatment for advanced prostate cancer patients; with a specific interest in biomarker-driven clinical trials.

Since its opening in 2004, the PCTTG, led by Professor Johann de Bono, has driven innovative design and conduct of biomarker-led, hypothesis-testing clinical trials supported by highly informative laboratory studies, has had huge scientific and clinical impact. The group, alongside its partners and collaborators, has made critical contributions to elucidating the biology, and clinical understanding, of prostate cancer, and also to transforming translational research and outcomes for this commonest of male malignancies. It has facilitated the development of many novel anti-cancer drugs which are now approved treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer, including abiraterone, enzalutamide, cabazitaxel and olaparib

The PCTTG led and conducted clinical trials that demonstrated the efficacy and safety of abiraterone, resulting in the drug's regulatory approval around the world. Abiraterone has been administered to more than 400,000 men worldwide with evidence indicating that it can improve life expectancy by at least a year, while significantly improving quality of life. In addition, the PCTTG played a role in the successful development of enzalutamide and cabazitaxel, resulting in the drugs registration, and now form standard of care therapies for lethal prostate cancer. Finally, the PCTTG’s work on olaparib in DNA repair defective cancers prostate cancers, utilizing a novel investigator-initiated adaptive trial design, provided impetus for later phase trials that have led to the recent approval of olaparib for use in DNA repair defective lethal prostate cancer.

Currently, it has a portfolio of both investigator-initiated and commercial clinical trials of novel anticancer agents. The Unit has expanded rapidly over the last 10 years and currently has a portfolio of multiple active clinical trials to treat patients with metastatic prostate cancer. The Unit is led by Professor Johann de Bono, who has been joined by Dr Adam Sharp who is a Wellcome Trust clinician scientist, and is focused on translational research to improve the care of advanced prostate cancer patients. They are supported by a group of dedicated clinical fellows, research nurses, a chief operating manager, a programme manager, a senior data manager, a senior trial co-ordinator, a compliance manager, trial co-ordinators, data managers, an academic PA and clinical PAs. 

The PCTTG has also played an important role in training a next generation of clinician scientists who are focused on improving prostate care throughout the UK, Europe and the World. These include Dr Adam Sharp MD PhD (UK), Dr Joaquin Mateo MD PhD (Barcelona), Dr Timothy Yap MD PhD (MD Anderson, Houston), Dr Gert Attard MD PhD (UCL, UK), Dr Roberta Ferraldeschi MD PhD (Roche, Basle), Dr Alison Reid MD PhD (UK), Dr Daniel Nava Rodrigues MD PhD (London, UK), Dr David Olmos MD PhD (Madrid), Dr Carmel Pezaro MD (Sheffield, UK), Dr Shahneen Sandhu MD (Peter Mac, Melbourne), Dr Aurelius Omlin MD (St Gallen, Switzerland), Dr Peter Fong MD (Auckland, New Zealand), Dr David Lorente MD (Valencia, Spain), Dr Raquel Lopez Perez MD PhD (Barcelona, Spain), Dr Zafeiris Zafeiriou MD (Thessaloniki, Greece), Dr Spyridion Sideris MD (Jules Bordet, Brussels), Dr Christophe Massard MD (Gustave Roussy, Paris), Dr Maialen Barrero MD (San Sebastian, Spain), Dr Niven Mehra MD PhD (Radboud, Nijmegen), Dr Andrea Zivi MD (Verona, Italy), Dr Robert Chandler MD (UK), Dr Semini Sumanasuriya MD PhD (UK), Michael Kolinsky MD (Edmonton, Canada), Dr Mariane Sousa Fontes MD (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Alec Paschalis MD PhD (UK), Caterina Aversa MD (UK), Dr Nikolaos Diamantis (UK), Dr Diletta Bianchini MD (UK), and Dr Pasquale Rescigno MD PhD (Turin, Italy).

Overall, this group has published several hundred manuscripts on the care of advanced prostate cancer and prostate cancer biomarkers and led on the development of abiraterone, cabazitaxel, enzalutamide, ipatasertib, olaparib, talazoparib and pembrolizumab as well as circulating tumour cells, ctDNA and the first molecular stratification of this disease with DNA repair defects and PTEN loss.

In addition, the group is supported by the Cancer Biomarkers Group and Translational Therapeutics Group at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, providing extensive expertise in tissue analysis and translational research. Furthermore, the group works closely with the Drug Development Unit to support early phase anti-cancer drug development; and collaborates with other national and international groups, to support the development of novel therapeutic strategies for advanced prostate cancer. 

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