Each year in the UK alone, about 37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Given that prostate cancers can be genetically quite different, means they affect the way in which they react to treatments.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation and the American Association for Cancer Research have just announced a prostate cancer “Dream Team”, in which Professor Johann de Bono from The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) will be collaborating with other expert prostate cancer researchers in a $10 million global effort to drive the development of personalized treatment for this disease.

The other experts were selected from five leading prostate cancer clinical research centers in the US and London, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Broad Institute at Harvard in Boston, as well as The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at The University of Washington in Seattle. The team also includes another doctor from the ICR and The Royal Marsden, Dr Gerhardt Attard.

It is estimated that the project will commence in the middle of 2012, with the first clinical trials scheduled to open in early 2013.

Professor de Bono, Professor in Experimental Cancer Medicine and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at the ICR and The Royal Marsden, who is the Dream Team’s principal member, declared:

“We have made great strides forward in developing new drugs to treat men with prostate cancer, along with the technology needed to examine the DNA faults causing these cancers. This project represents the next step – a global effort to combine these two advances to create a truly personalized approach to treating prostate cancers. I am thrilled and proud to be part of this collaboration, which should make a real and lasting difference to the way we care for men with advanced prostate cancer.”

Over the last few years, several new drugs have demonstrated their ability to extend life for men with advanced prostate cancer. Professor de Bono, and his team at the ICR and The Royal Marsden helped to develop several of these drugs.

The target of the Dream Team is to design tests that can assist doctors in determining which of these new options, as well as future experimental drugs, can provide the ultimate benefit for their patients.

Over their three-year project duration, they will systematically scan genomes of patients with advanced metastatic cancer, in order to search for gene alterations that are more frequent in patients who are responsive to therapies, as well as alterations in those, who develop resistance to the drugs.

The aim is to ultimately identify a range of biological markers, which can be used by doctors to ensure that treatments are personalized to their patient’s cancer in addition to successfully develop further therapies for the most common type of male cancer.

Written By Petra Rattue