TFRI’s Vancouver-based prostate cancer progression team is primed and ready to continue its world-class research on advanced, drug-resistant tumours after receiving a five-year renewal of Terry Fox funding.
“This project is, in many ways, a continuation of ongoing work we have conducted for the past 15 years to better understand how prostate cancers adapt and evolve, thereby becoming resistant to the various drugs that we use to try and control advanced disease,” says Dr. Martin Gleave. He leads the New Frontiers Terry Fox Program Project Grant’s 20-person multidisciplinary team from the Vancouver Prostate Centre, where he is also the executive director.
The team has a prolific track record for its success as a leader in developing new therapies to help patients whose cancer becomes resistant:
- Notably, the anti-clusterin drug OGX-011, which was developed and supported with earlier funding from the Terry Fox Foundation (among others), is currently being tested in a Phase III clinical trial. An earlier Phase II study showed a seven-month gain in survival for patients;
- The group has also created four other targeted therapeutics, two biomarker assays, and completed eight Phase I/II trials of novel agents;
- Therapies that inhibit Hsp27 and ERG, which encode proteins typically mutated in cancer, are in the works;
- Their work has been published in more than 430 journal articles and they’ve filed 99 patents.
With the latest injection of funding, the team will apply more cutting-edge science, such as new genomic technologies and computer-aided drug design, to their existing work. The lab also outlicensed a novel androgen receptor DNA-binding domain inhibitor to Roche, the largest ever from UBC, and will also be leading the first in-man clinical trial of the drug.
“All of these projects are very cool and hold tremendous potential,” says Dr. Gleave. “Canada is able to hit well above its weight in the global arena, and I think that’s because of strategic funding from the Terry Fox Research Institute, which has been very forward- thinking in helping to bring people with multiple skill sets together to tackle bigger problems in science.”
Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian men, and one of the most common cancers for this demographic.