Leading men’s health charity, Prostate Cancer UK, has awarded the money to experts at Newcastle University as part of the charity’s Research Innovation Awards scheme which encourages researchers to develop forward thinking, ambitious research proposals which challenge the status quo.
Prostate cancer cells are surrounded by groups of sugars called glycans and previous studies have suggested that removing these sugars could trigger cancer cell death.
This research, led by Dr Jennifer Munkley, will investigate why this reaction occurs and how it can be harnessed to develop new treatments and methods to diagnose aggressive prostate cancers.
Dr Munkley, from the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, said: “We already know that the sugars surrounding prostate cancer cells play some role in cancer cell death, but we don’t know nearly enough, which is why this grant from Prostate Cancer UK is so important.
“Through this work we will monitor how the prostate cancer cells are affected by adding and then taking away sugar groups. We will then test to see whether existing cancer drugs which block sugar groups from forming are effective in preventing the prostate cancer cells from growing.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the disease kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK.
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “The need for research into prostate cancer is greater than ever. With an ever-increasing ageing population, the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is growing at a tremendous rate. In fact, the disease is on target to become the most common cancer overall by 2030.
“Identifying aggressive, dangerous prostate cancers that could go on to kill and then establishing how they can be effectively treated are two of the biggest challenges facing prostate cancer today.
“However, pioneering research like this from Dr Munkley could provide us with some of the answers which could eventually change the game for men.
“In a bid to raise the vital cash needed to fund more research like this, we have launched a series of March for Men walks and we’re encouraging everyone to get involved this summer.”
Dr Munkley added: “Through this research we will also be looking at the sugar groups to see whether they can be used as a potential marker to diagnose prostate cancer and distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of the disease.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for prostate cancer research and we’re proud to be part of a movement which could bring about real change for men within our lifetimes.”
Now in its second year, Prostate Cancer UK’s March for Men charity walks has grown with a further four organised in Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol, to add to last year’s sites in Glasgow, Leeds, and London.
To sign up to a March for Men event, visit: prostatecanceruk.org/march
Press release adapted with thanks to Prostate Cancer UK
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