Researchers from Cardiff University will investigate how prostate cancer affects the immune system, thanks to funding from Prostate Cancer UK.
The team, led by Professor Aled Clayton, have received a grant worth over £230,000 to help them pinpoint which men could benefit from powerful new immunotherapy treatments. The grant is part of £1.7m the charity has awarded to five projects across the UK.
Immunotherapies have been very effective in treating other forms of cancer, but to date have had limited success in men with prostate cancer. To overcome this, Professor Aled Clayton and his team will use state-of-the-art technology to map out the immune cells present in prostate cancer tumours, and identify molecules released by the cancer that can stop these immune cells from working.
By studying samples from different stages of the disease, the researchers hope to understand how prostate cancer affects the immune system over time, so they can find better ways of predicting and monitoring men’s response to immunotherapy.
Professor Clayton, based at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and the Wales Cancer Research Centre, said: "Prostate cancer cells release small packages of molecules into the blood which can block immune cells from attacking them. We aim to develop new methods to identify these packages, so we can gain a clearer understanding of why some prostate cancers respond to immunotherapy and some do not.
"In the future, we hope this could lead to blood tests which could check whether a particular form of immunotherapy is likely to work or not. This would help to ensure men are receiving the best possible treatment for their cancer."
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK.
Simon Grieveson, Head of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Immunotherapy has revolutionised the treatment of many types of cancer, but so far this approach has only been successful in small numbers of men with prostate cancer. That’s why we’re investing over £1.7 million in research to accelerate progress in this field and help develop more effective treatments for men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
"Funding innovative studies that tackle prostate cancer from new angles is vital to stop so many men dying from the disease. We look forward to seeing how Professor Clayton’s project progresses over the next few years and the difference it will make to men’s lives."