Progression of prostate cancer

Richard BryantProstate cancer (PCa) is the commonest cancer diagnosed in men in the United Kingdom, and the second leading cause of male cancer-related death. It is therefore an important cancer, which poses particular challenges for patients and their clinicians.

These challenges include the correct identification of patients who require active treatment (rather than, perhaps, careful observation – so-called “Active Surveillance”), the correct identification of patients whose PCa may not respond optimally to a particular therapy (for example radiotherapy), and therefore may be better treated in an alternative manner, and the identification of key molecules or pathways that drive PCa progression to advanced disease, so that these molecules or pathways can perhaps be blocked with new drugs.

A particular molecule called EZH2 has been shown to be important in the progression of PCa to an advanced state (such as where PCa has spread to bones and is therefore incurable), however the precise mechanisms by which EZH2 acts have probably not been fully identified.

We have new preliminary experimental evidence that suggests that abnormal EZH2 function in prostate cancer may promote the development of resistance to radiotherapy, and may additionally promote the invasive behaviour of this cancer.

We therefore propose to investigate these potential new roles for EZH2 in causing PCa to become resistant to radiotherapy, along with new roles for EZH2 in causing PCa to spread. It is hoped that identifying new ways in which EZH2 causes aggressive PCa might lead to the development of new treatments for men with this common cancer.

Pictured is Richard Bryant.