Scientists at the University of Aberdeen have received almost £1.1 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to help fund a new treatment for advanced prostate cancer.
Under the Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS), Professor Iain McEwan, from the University’s Institute of Medical Sciences, is leading an interdisciplinary drug discovery project to explore new ways to attack treatment-resistant cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men with almost 50,000 new cases a year. It is estimated that by 2035 prostate cancer could kill 50 men a day.
Currently widely-used hormone treatments work by stopping male hormones like testosterone from feeding the cancer; testosterone binds to a protein inside a prostate cell, known as the androgen receptor and many prostate cancer drugs work by attaching to the androgen receptor, physically blocking hormones from being able to switch it on. However, in some men, the androgen receptor itself changes shape, so that it’s always switched on.
The Aberdeen team, in partnership with medicinal chemists led by Dr Craig Jamieson (University of Strathclyde) and collaboration with colleagues at Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, aim to develop novel small molecules that will switch off both normal and aberrant forms of the androgen receptor protein inside prostate cancer cells.
Professor Iain McEwan said: “Achieving this highly completive funding support from the MRC is a real boost to our research and was a real team effort, involving the close collaboration of researchers here in Aberdeen and Glasgow as well as Dr Ann Lewendon and colleagues in Research and Innovation.”