£250k For UU Prostate Cancer Research

Researchers at Ulster University have been awarded over £250,000 from men's health charity Prostate Cancer UK.

The funding will support Professor John Callan as he tests a novel way of killing returning prostate cancer cells while also minimising the side effects suffered by patients.

It comes as the charity's Research Innovation Awards provide over £2.8 million for eight of the most ambitious research projects across the UK.

From ground-breaking new drugs to cutting-edge scans, the majority of this year's schemes are focused on improving treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Over 11,500 men die from the disease each year in the UK.

Simon Grieveson, Head of Research Funding said: "Unfortunately, there are limited ways to treat these men, particularly if the cancer becomes resistant to hormone therapies – the mainstay of treatment for advanced disease. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we're delighted to fund research that could transform the landscape for these men, and move us one step closer to our aim of stopping prostate cancer from being a killer."

Even if prostate cancer is caught early and treated, there is a chance it can come back. Current treatments for the disease are as yet not always effective.
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Professor Callan and his team have found a new combination of treatments, and a unique way to deliver them, that they believe can help control returning bouts of the disease.

Titled 'bursting the bubble on prostate cancer', the treatment involves the use of chemotherapy drugs. These are as effective at killing the prostate cancer, but can have harmful side effects, so the academics established a way to package up the drugs in microscopic packets – called microbubbles.

The microbubbles are designed to burst when they come into contact with ultrasound waves, similar to those used to image babies in the womb. So by combining his chemotherapy 'bubbles' with the ultrasound treatment, a toxic dose can be delivered just to the cancer, without causing side effects in the rest of the body.

Prostate Cancer UK awarded a total of £250,950 to the scheme, allowing the local researchers to continue to develop their microbubble drug delivery system and test it in models of prostate cancer.

They'll look to see how effective the treatment is at killing the prostate cancer, and whether it's better than existing treatments for prostate cancer that has come back.

They'll also investigate the safety of the treatment to help them build a case to begin clinical trials.


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