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2020 prostate cancer research projects

Thanks to the funds raised through MANDATE, The PA Research Foundation has been able to commit funding to several groundbreaking prostate cancer research projects in 2020.

Project: A multifaceted precision approach to high risk prostate cancer

Lead investigator: A/Prof E Williams. Collaborative Team: I Vela, D Humacher, B Shepherd, K Miles, M Brown, N Boock, S Alinhezhad

Project summary:

Despite the best of care and modern treatments, 50% or more of men with high risk prostate cancer treated definitively with curative intent will have recurrence of cancer and potentially require further therapies. This translates into significant costs financially, to quality of life and to life itself. We aim to use a precision medicine approach for men with high risk prostate cancer at significant risk of cancer recurrence. We take samples of prostate cancer from men with high risk cancer at the time of surgery and use a combination of cutting edge technologies to analyse individual patient's cancer. We are using various culture technologies to grow the cancer in the laboratory for drug screening as well as DNA sequencing of tumors to assess if there are potential targets for drug therapies or clinical trials. If cancer recurrence does occur in the future this information could be critical to selection of appropriate and effective individualised treatments -"forewarned is forearmed". If the initial pilot study demonstrates utility, a larger clinical trial where this information will be utilised for the future management of men at the time of cancer recurrence would be instituted.

Research benefits:

We may be able to improve outcomes in men whose cancer returns by identifying therapies that are effective (or ineffective) before use in the patient. Having this kind of information early may speed referral for clinical trials, improve treatment plans, and reduce time to implementation of individualised treatment strategies. One of the first men enrolled in our study has unfortunately developed recurrent disease and will be the first to undergo drug screening in the lab to determine the most effective treatment for his cancer and indicate the potential power of this approach moving forward.


Project: Clinical study to evaluate the impact of intensive physical training and structured exercise programs on cardiovascular health and penile erection in men with prostate cancer

Lead investigator: A/Prof E Chung. Collaborative team: Dr H Rhee, A McCarthy, S McAllister, Dr T Skinner, Prof J Coombes

Project summary:

Men with prostate cancer commonly experience significant psycho-sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, especially following surgery and radiation therapy. In addition, many men have poor cardiovascular health especially in the setting of hormone (androgen) deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. While the impact of pelvic floor exercise on early recovery of urinary continence in men following prostate cancer treatment is well known, the clinical effects of physical exercise on male sexual function and cardiovascular health are poorly understood and remain largely unknown. Recent literature supports the role of high intensity interval exercise training to boost cardio-respiratory health with smaller time investment compared to continuous form of exercise, and an improved VO2 max, a measure of endurance that calculates the maximum volume of oxygen the body can use. By increasing the cardio-metabolism and athletic capacity, this could translate to endothelial remodeling and improve overall vascular health and blood flow. This study explores the feasibility and efficacy of structured high intensity interval exercise training on male sexual function (measured by erectile function score) and cardiovascular health markers including cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2 peak), exercise capacity (peak power output), coronary markers and vascular function (pulse wave velocity) in men with erectile dysfunction following prostate cancer treatments.

Research benefits:

This prospective clinical study will demonstrate that intensive physical training and structured exercise programs can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health remodeling and penile erection in men who are diagnosed and received treatment for prostate cancer. These research outcomes could translate to optimisation of cardio-metabolic health, disease prevention and overall better healthcare delivery in prostate cancer survivorship.


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