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Challenge Awards are Here!

January 30, 2019
Challenge Awards are Here!

At PCF our number one goal is to stop all men from dying of prostate cancer. It is a simple goal with very complex solutions, and we rely on hundreds of dedicated researchers to help us tackle prostate cancer from all angles until we reach this goal.

Because we know that the key to curing prostate cancer is funding the best research, it is always an exciting time for us when we announce our latest round of award recipients. Today we are announcing seven new PCF Challenge Award recipients for 2018.  This is in addition to 10 2018 PCF Challenge Award recipients that we have previously announced.

Challenge Award recipients are awarded 1 million dollars and are selected because their research is some of the most promising and cutting edge in the field. There are seven recipients this round, that means 7 million dollars of lifesaving research and a huge step towards our goal of eliminating death by prostate cancer.

So what exactly are the projects we’re funding?

The first project is led by Aaron LeBeau, PhD from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. It is a novel immunotherapy designed to specifically attack a particularly nasty and currently incurable from of prostate cancer known as aggressive variant prostate cancer (AVPC).

The second project is led by Douglas McNeel, MD, PhD at the University of Wisconsin. It is designed to optimize immunotherapy in prostate cancer by looking into combining checkpoint immunotherapy (a type of treatment that activates immune cells), an anti-tumor vaccine, and targeted radionuclide therapy (a radioactive drug that targets cancer cells). This could lead to a clinical trial for patients and then ultimately a very effective weapon against prostate cancer.

The third project is led by Philip Kantoff, MD at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. This project will center around the effects of clonal hematopoiesis (CH) on prostate cancer patients).  CH is a condition characterized by the accumulation of mutations in white blood cells that increases risk for heart conditions and blood cancers.  The team will study whether CH makes prostate cancer worse, if CH affects prostate cancer treatment, and whether anti-inflammatory treatment may be beneficial to men with prostate cancer. All of these findings will lead to better treatment selection for men with prostate cancer.

The fourth project is led by Rakesh Heer, MBBS, PhD at the University of Newcastle. This project will develop prostate cancer organoids (mini-tumor avatars that can be used to study tumor characteristics in a laboratory) from stem cells. We know that this sounds like something straight out of Frankenstein, but hear us out, this could save a lot of lives. The project is designed to recreate tumor mutations from individual patients in the tumor avatars and test optimal precision medicines on them, to improve precision medicine treatment selections for patients.

The fifth project is led by Ganesh Raj, MD, PhD at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. This project is designed to develop and test new drugs specifically for neuroendocrine prostate cancer, a highly lethal form of advanced prostate cancer.

The sixth project is led by Emmanuel Antonarakis, MD at Johns Hopkins University. This project is designed to investigate effectiveness of bipolar androgen therapy (a type of testosterone therapy) in combination with immunotherapy in advanced prostate cancer patients.

Last but certainly not least, the seventh project is designed to use new imaging technology to identify patients with rising PSA levels after initial treatment who are at risk for lethal prostate cancer early on, and also reveal the pathways by which prostate cancer metastasizes. This project is led by Kenneth Pienta, MD at Johns Hopkins University.

If you couldn’t follow all of the science and terms discussed in the seven research projects that is OKAY! Just know that it means more lifesaving treatments and information are coming down the pipeline, and that is a beautiful thing.

For more information on our 2018 Challenge Award Winners click here.