Breast and Prostate Cancer Charities Unite in Search of Single Treatments
30 January 2017 at 1:26 pm
In some ways men and women aren’t all that different, so, in what has been described as a world-first partnership, the National Breast Cancer and Movember foundations will together fund research to find single treatments for gender-specific cancers.
In an announcement on Monday, the foundations said they would provide a combined $2.5 million for up to two research projects focusing on breast and prostate cancers.
In contrast to the current tumour-specific approach, the grant will bring researchers of both diseases together with the aim of advancing new treatments and methods of care for prostate cancer in men, breast cancer in women and men, and, possibly, ovarian cancer in women.
Despite the differences between breast, prostate and ovarian cancers, there are many similarities in their genetic basis and biological characteristics – meaning certain treatment options could treat all three diseases.
The executive director of programs at Movember, Paul Villanti, told Pro Bono News the joint research had the potential to fast-track results.
“We see with common genetic mutations across different tumour types a really exciting opportunity to get answers faster in respect of not only prostate cancer, but obviously other tumour streams as well,” Villanti said.
“So the idea of partnering with leaders in the field in other cancer tumours really represents an exciting opportunity to get results faster for the people we all serve.
“Rather than doing it all in isolation, combining and leveraging our funds, certainly from Movember’s perspective, is going to get results faster than doing it alone.”
In Australia, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Villanti said these statistics highlighted the importance of the unique partnership.
“This area of targeting common genetic mutations certainly has developed significantly over the past couple of years, and we really think now is the time to double down and really accelerate breakthroughs,” he said.
“To our knowledge, certainly in terms of the quantum of funds that are invested, this is the first time prostate and breast cancer charities have come together to invest a large amount of money to achieve results that benefit both men and women.”
The foundations are hoping the three-year research grant results in new treatments for the cancers.
“We want to see knowledge move forward faster in this early, high-risk phase into clinical trials, and, ultimately, new tests and treatments,” Villanti said.
“Where both Movember and the National Breast Cancer Foundation play is in taking the earlier risks, the earlier research, and so there’s already quite a lot of promise being shown in preliminary data in a lot of projects that we have funded.
“We’re hoping that this effort builds on those results and really drives that knowledge forward faster towards clinical trials.”
The director of research investment at the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Dr Alessandra Muntoni, said the partnership would combine two extensive networks in the research community.
“Our collaboration with Movember really symbolises a giant leap forward for funding Australian cancer researchers in a particularly challenging funding landscape,” Muntoni said.
“These grants will really give Australian cancer researchers the ability to take their research to the next level.
“It will also give them enormous opportunities to work and be recognised alongside Australia’s best in cancer research, while aligning with two leading research-focused cancer charities.”