The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) announced that the partnership with the Movember Foundation has resulted in 7 new Challenge Awards for 2014. In May, it was announced that PCF received over $8.4 million from the Movember Foundation, the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health. The Movember Foundation challenges men to grow moustaches during Movember (the month formerly known as November) to spark conversation and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems. In total, the 2014 Movember-PCF Challenge Awards will be funding 49 investigators hailing from 10 cancer centers across the United States.
Challenge Awards stand out among PCF’s research programs, representing a unique approach to understanding and treating prostate cancer. Challenge Awards support cross-disciplinary teams of investigators conducting pioneering research to address critical, unmet medical needs for prostate cancer patients. These highly competitive awards make large investments in multi-year projects that may fall outside the parameters of traditional funding organizations.
“What is so game-changing about the 2014 Movember-PCF Challenge Awards is that they are so patient-centric, and if successful, can be used in every clinic to directly benefit men with prostate cancer,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, president and CEO of PCF. “Having this special type of competition is healthy for science and creates a winning-spirit among all teams involved. More than the sum of their parts, these collaborative projects speed the process of scientific discovery and delivery of new medicines to prostate cancer patients. Movember’s partnership is pivotal to the fulfillment of our mission to save lives.”
“Together, with PCF, the Movember Foundation is devoted to funding world-class research with an urgent goal in mind: accelerating breakthroughs in prostate cancer research for patients and their families,” said Mark Hedstrom, U.S. Country Director for Movember. “We are committed to having an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health, and working towards a world where no man will die from prostate cancer.”
Each of the teams awarded a 2014 Movember–PCF Challenge Award investigates issues related to metastatic, treatment-resistant prostate cancer, an advanced form of the disease with often-lethal outcomes. This cycle, the program solicited applications that emphasized clinical research, meaning that they bring science directly to patients to improve their care in the near-term. Successful proposals range from projects generating and testing new medicines for treatment-resistant prostate cancer to studies that aim to activate and/or stimulate a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Other projects examine new diagnostic tools that will help doctors tailor treatment plans to patients’ unique tumor biology; such precision medicine is pivotal in delaying—and in many cases preventing—the onset of treatment resistance.
Among the projects funded by a 2014 Movember-PCF Challenge Award is a study led by Andrew Dannenberg, MD, of Weill Cornel Medical College that investigates the relationship between obesity and aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Dr. Dannenberg and his team will examine how chronic inflammation caused by excess fat tissue promotes prostate cancer progression, and will test the effect of exercise and other lifestyle changes on this process. This work may lead to new treatment strategies and provide patients with a daily life prescription for nutrition and exercise to prevent advancement of the disease.
Another project, led by Kenneth Pienta, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tests Targeted Niche Therapy (TNT), a bold strategy for eliminating prostate cancer in bone. Participants in this project will be treated with a medication thought to release tumor cells from the bone. These patients will then undergo chemotherapy to kill the detached tumor cells. This combination therapy effectively delivers a “one-two punch” to advanced prostate cancer, and if successful, will lead to a cure for bone-metastatic disease – the most lethal form of prostate cancer.
The following 2014 proposals also received funding:
“PD-1 Blockade with T-Cell Activating Therapy to Treat Metastatic Prostate Cancer,” led by Douglas McNeel, MD, PhD, of University of Wisconsin
“Use of Selective GR Antagonists in Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer,” led by Suzanne Conzen, MD of University of Chicago
“The Novel CYP17 Lyase Inhibitor VT-464 for Patients with Advanced Prostate Cancer Resistant to Enzalutamide: Use of Predictive Biomarkers during Drug Development Process Is Essential for Improved Patient Management and Time to Drug Approval,” led by Howard Scher, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
“Development of Circulating Molecular Predictors of Chemotherapy and Novel Hormonal Therapy Benefit in Men with Metastatic Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer (mCRPC),” led by Andrew Armstrong, MD, MSc of Duke University
“Charting the Epigenomic Landscape of Advanced Prostate Cancer in Human Tissue,” led by Matthew Freedman, MD of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Each proposal submitted to PCF was subjected to a rigorous peer review process that assessed the scientific merit of the project as well as its potential impact for patients. More information about the 2014 Movember-PCF Challenge Awards can be found at www.pcf.org
To date, the Movember Foundation has donated nearly $27 million to PCF to support innovative prostate cancer research, funding 22 research awards in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.
PCF is committed to accelerating research and innovation in prostate cancer, a disease that affects 1 in 7 American men. PCF has brought about many of the recent scientific advances in prostate cancer research leading to better therapies. PCF identifies and invests in the most promising research programs—projects that other organizations may deem “high-risk,” but offer the greatest reward in terms of improved detection, enhanced quality of life, and higher survival rates.