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Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), along with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), SU2C's scientific partner, announced the formation of a new Dream Team dedicated to prostate cancer research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held in Chicago.
Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan, and Charles L. Sawyers, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will lead the Dream Team project titled "Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer." The Dream Team includes Philip Kantoff, MD, and Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and scientists drawn from leading prostate cancer clinical research centers in the U.S. and England.
The SU2C-PCF Prostate Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant will provide funding of $10 million over a three-year period for a seven-center project including both clinical centers and two research infrastructure sites that will address therapeutic interventions for advanced prostate cancer with special emphasis on metastatic disease, and deliver near-term patient benefit through investigation by a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, synergistic Dream Team of expert investigators.
"Through this unique partnership with PCF, we will focus critically needed research on advanced prostate cancer," said Sherry Lansing, one of SU2C's co-founders. "Our collective goal is to produce personalized treatment approaches that will begin to benefit patients in the next few years."
"We are excited to announce and fund this Dream Team in partnership with Stand Up To Cancer. Healthy competition for the prestigious research award brought out tremendous innovation — well beyond what the National Cancer Institute or Department of Defense is currently funding," commented Jonathan Simons, M.D., president and CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
"We are highly confident that the cross-institutional teams of researchers led by Drs. Chinnaiyan and Sawyers will significantly fast-forward actionable therapeutic sciences for men with treatment-resistant metastatic prostate cancer."
"Utilizing this Dream Team grant, we will be able to bring together great scientists and clinicians from around the world to join in the fight against metastatic prostate cancer. We hope this unique model of research will lead to patient benefit in the short term," said Chinnaiyan.
Prostate cancer, like other types of cancer, is not a homogeneous disease. For example, up to 50 percent of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) patients have a genetic aberration of two genes fused together. Often these fusions, which were first reported by Chinnaiyan's lab, involve the ETS genes, a group of oncogenes that play an important role in the progression of prostate cancer. A majority also have a "deletion" or loss of an entire gene called PTEN.
The diversity of genetic aberrations found in prostate cancer suggests that treatment decisions will require a personalized or precision approach – matching treatment to specific characteristics of a tumor. The premise for this proposal is that information about the genetic makeup of an individual's CRPC may guide the doctor to choose a "personalized" treatment for that patient.
Chinnaiyan, Sawyers and the members of their Dream Team will focus on patients with metastatic prostate cancer. First, the team will implement a multi-institutional study that systematically evaluates the prostate cancer genomes of patients enrolling in four clinical trials, evaluating novel drugs for CRPC or beginning treatment with approved drugs like abiraterone.
They will identify predictors of why some patients respond to these therapies, as well as predictors of resistance to these therapies. The study will capture a molecular snapshot of a patient's cancer and incorporate this information into the clinical trials. It will also enable a framework that will facilitate progress toward a personalized approach for evaluating new drugs and treating patients with prostate cancer.
The delivery of clinically valuable information based on the analyses of each patient’s tumor will improve the lives of patients with prostate cancer. While state-of-the-art technology in DNA sequencing has dramatically accelerated biomedical research, translation into a clinical setting has numerous barriers that limit the potential benefits. This multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional effort establishes a framework for translating research into precision prostate cancer medicine for patient care.
The project is estimated to start mid-2012 with the first clinical trials scheduled to open in early 2013.
A SU2C-PCF Joint Scientific Advisory Committee (JSAC) conducted a unique, rapid and rigorous evaluation of the applications via a multi-step scientific review process. The review process began with a call for letters of intent by the AACR in October. The committee then chose four finalist teams, each of which met with the JSAC to present the plans for their research and respond to questions about their projects – a level of interaction between applicants and reviewers that are unique in a scientific review process.
The Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer Dream Team consists of a multi-disciplinary group of experts that includes laboratory and clinical researchers, young investigators and senior scientists who have not worked together in the past, as well as patient advocates.