PROSTATE CANCER FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 24 NEW YOUNG INVESTIGATOR AWARDS

Class of 2016 Represents $5.4 Million Investment in the Future of Cancer Care

 

SANTA MONICA, CA June 23, 2016 – The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young Investigator (YI) Awards to pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of 128 applicants from 77 institutions across 15 countries.

Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators

“Our 2016 Young Investigators encapsulate the future of cancer care, and we take great pride in our investment in these remarkable researchers,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, president and CEO of PCF. “By leveraging the most current advances in biotechnology, they are poised to break new ground in immunotherapy and precision medicine, and establish novel modalities for optimizing existing therapies for better patient outcomes in the near term.”

Successful proposals in the Class of 2016 forecast new paradigms for the understanding and management of prostate cancer and other genetically complex diseases. These include increased reliance on genomics to accurately predict prognosis and personalize treatments. Several YIs are working on game-changing new immunological approaches that redirect a patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. Advances in these areas may one day circumvent treatment resistance and eliminate the need for systemic treatments that can be toxic.

Projects also predominantly concentrate on treatment resistant prostate cancers. This work will not only identify new vulnerabilities in aggressive forms of prostate cancer, but will also help prevent the onset of—and possibly reverse—resistance to first-line therapies.

Other YIs address the relationship of lifestyle factors, such as obesity, and aggressive disease, a burgeoning research area that has gained momentum in recent months.

The YI Program has been a pillar of PCF’s Research Enterprise since its inception in 2007. Awards make 3-year investments in early career scientists with the skills and expertise to rapidly advance high impact discoveries that can be translated to clinical practice. As part of the YI program, awardees are mentored by leaders in prostate cancer research. Each award is matched dollar-for-dollar by the investigator’s institution.

To date, PCF has provided funding to 202 YIs, representing a total investment of $42.3 million in 10 countries. Awardees have been responsible for innovative discoveries related to prostate cancer diagnostics, disease progression, and the development of treatment resistance.

 

High Impact Achievements of the PCF Young Investigator Program:

 

  • Discovery of AR-V7 as a biomarker of tumor resistance to abiraterone and enzalutamide treatments but not taxane chemotherapy
  • Development of method to grow prostate tumor avatars from patient samples to study biology and drug sensitivity
  • Therapeutic targeting of BET proteins and the development of new BET inhibitors
  • Development of a clinical high-throughput genome sequencing program that has become the model for precision medicine programs in prostate cancer
  • A 70-gene classifier that can identify patients who have neuroendocrine prostate cancer, one of the most aggressive and lethal forms of the disease

The YI Program is inspired by the preeminent scientist Donald S. Coffey, PhD, the Prostate Cancer Research Director at Johns Hopkins University who for over four decades mentored and motivated some of the best and brightest minds in prostate cancer research. Dr. Coffey chaired PCF’s first Scientific Advisory Committee in 1993.

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 $660 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. 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. Connect with PCF: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Terms to know from this article:

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that boosts or restores the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. There a several different agents used for immunotherapy; Provenge is one example.

Prognosis

The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence.

Progression

Increase in the size of a tumor or spread of cancer in the body.

Biomarker

A measurable biological substance that can be used to indicate disease characteristics such as diagnosis, prognosis, or therapeutic responses.

Abiraterone

Zitaga Abiraterone is an oral medication that blocks the synthesis of androgens (male hormones), such as testosterone, inside the tumor. Abiraterone is FDA approved for the treatment of patients with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer.

Tumor

A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Gene

The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein.