WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2017 – The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) today announced awards totaling $7.5 million to fund new 2017 PCF Challenge Awards supporting international, cross-disciplinary teams of investigators conducting pioneering research into critical, unmet medical needs in areas that have the highest potential for impacting and extending lives of men with advanced prostate cancer. This year’s awards include innovative research projects – such as testing several novel radiation-emitting prostate cancer-targeting treatments in advanced prostate cancer and studying prostate cancer from U.S. veterans to better understand the biology of the disease to answer important questions about treatment for lethal prostate cancer. The announcement was made at the 24th Annual PCF Scientific Retreat.
“We are proud and excited to fund these eight teams who will be conducting life-saving research for patients with prostate cancer,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, , PCF. “The research conducted by these teams will change the face of how we view the treatment landscape of prostate cancer and have the potential to result in cures even for men with very advanced disease who previously had no further treatment options available.”
As part of PCF’s commitment to accelerating research and innovation in prostate cancer, Challenge Award teams are required to include at least three investigators, one of whom must be a young investigator, defined as researchers within six years of completing research or medical training programs. The awarded teams were selected from a pool of 92 international applications following a rigorous peer review process that assessed each project’s scientific merit and potential impact for patients. These eight teams will join six previously announced 2017 Challenge Award teams in the PCF research portfolio that were funded in partnership with the Movember Foundation.
The following teams were selected to receive 2017 PCF Challenge Awards:
- Optimization of Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen-Targeted Radiation ($1 million); this team led by Scott Tagawa, MD, Neil Bander, MD, and Shankar Vallabhajosula, PhD (all of Weill Cornell Medicine) will conduct clinical trials to test the efficacy of several highly promising new PSMA-targeted radiation-emitting treatments in advanced prostate cancer. This team includes researchers from Tulane University, Harvard: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
- Harnessing Synergies Between 177-Lutate Therapy and Olaparib to Improve Clinical Outcome of Men with Metastatic Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer ($1 million); this team led by Shahneen Sandhu, MBBS, Rodney Hicks, MD, MBBS, Michael Hofman, MBBS, Scott Williams, MD, MBBS, Carleen Cullinane, PhD, ScD, John Violet, MBBS, PhD, and Paul Neeson, PhD, ScD (all of Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) will conduct a clinical trial testing the efficacy of a novel radiation-emitting prostate cancer-targeting treatment, 177-Lu-PSMA, in combination with the PARP-inhibitor olaparib, in men with advanced prostate cancer. This team includes researchers from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, St Vincent’s Hospital, Kinghorn Cancer Centre, and Monash University.
- Elucidating mechanisms of Effectiveness and Resistance to Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) Targeted Radioligand Therapy (RLT) Using 177-Lu-PSMA-617 ($1 million); this team led by Johannes Czernin, MD, and Caius Radu, MD (both of University of California, Los Angeles) will conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials testing the efficacy of 177-Lu-PSMA-617, a novel radiation-emitting prostate cancer-targeted therapy, in advanced prostate cancer.
- Curing Lethal Non-Castrate Prostate Cancer: Integrative Molecular Analysis for Mechanisms of Exceptional Response, Resistance and Recurrence ($1 million); this team led by Howard Scher, MD (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) and Mary-Ellen Taplin, MD (Harvard: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), will develop a precision medicine approach for treating prostate cancer patients with high-risk localized disease or low-volume metastatic tumors with a potentially curative regimen that includes an intense combination of androgen-targeted therapies, followed by maximal treatment of the primary tumor. This team includes researchers from Harvard: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard: Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
- Multiplatform Profiling of Lethal Prostate Cancer in the Veterans Affairs Population ($1 million); this team led by Isla Garraway, MD, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles), Beatrice Knudsen, MD, PhD (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center), and Peter Kuhn, PhD (University of Southern California) will profile mutations and genes expressed in prostate cancer samples from U.S. veterans throughout the course of treatment to identify mechanisms and biomarkers of prostate cancer progression and treatment resistance. This team includes researchers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
- Targeting BRN2 in Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer ($1 million); this team led by Amina Zoubeidi, PhD (University of British Columbia) and Himisha Beltran, MD (Weill Cornell Medical College) will develop a novel therapy targeting BRN2, a driver of the highly aggressive neuroendocrine subtype of prostate cancer, and will develop biomarkers to identify patients who may benefit from this treatment. This team includes researchers from Simon Fraser University.
- Clinicopathological Correlation and Molecular Signature Identification and Risk Stratification of Prostate Cancer in African-American U.S. Veterans, With and Without Exposure to Battlefield Chemicals ($1 million); this team led by Jeffrey Jones, MD, MSc (Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center) and Michael Ittmann, MD (Baylor College of Medicine) will study prostate cancer samples from U.S. veterans to better understand the biology of prostate cancer in African-American men and to elucidate the effects of exposure to battlefield chemicals such as Agent Orange on the development and progression of prostate cancer. This team includes researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
- SEARCH: Survivorship Enhancement in Men with Prostate Cancer At Risk for Poor Cognitive Health During Treatment with ADT ($515,000); this team led by Alicia Morgans, MD, MPH (Northwestern University) and Charles Ryan, MD (University of California, San Francisco) will develop methods to measure whether androgen-targeted treatments for prostate cancer increase risk for cognitive decline, develop biomarkers to identify men at risk, and test an intervention to prevent further cognitive decline in patients undergoing treatment. This team includes researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
About the Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research. Founded in 1993, PCF has raised more than $715 million and provided funding to more than 2,000 research programs at more than 200 cancer centers and universities. The PCF global research enterprise now extends to 19 countries and funds a robust research portfolio. PCF advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more efficient investment of governmental research funds for transformational cancer research. Its efforts have helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer. For more information, visit www.pcf.org.