Inaugural grant funds simultaneous breast and prostate cancer research

The Movember Foundation and National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) have awarded the inaugural ‘Breast & Prostate Cancer Linkage Grant’ to an innovative, Australia-led international research project including Garvan researchers.

A/Prof Elgene Lim, Prof Susan Clark and A/Prof Alex Swarbrick

19 September 2017

The Garvan Institute congratulates an international team of researchers, including Chief Investigators Associate Professor Elgene Lim, Professor Susan Clark and co-investigator Associate Professor Alex Swarbrick, on receiving the inaugural ‘Breast & Prostate Cancer Linkage Grant’ from the Movember Foundation and NBCF. 

The research team, led by University of Adelaide’s Professor Wayne Tilley, have received $2.5 million to explore an innovative new treatment path for both breast and prostate cancer, which has potential to transform the lives of women and men around the world living with breast or prostate cancer.

The ‘Breast & Prostate Cancer Linkage Grant’ is a new initiative aimed at improving outcomes for men with prostate cancer and both men and women with breast cancer. For the first time, the Movember Foundation and NBCF have come together to jointly fund high-impact translational research that spans both prostate and breast cancer.

Associate Professor Elgene Lim says, “This grant builds on the combined and unique strengths of the Garvan, Monash and University of Adelaide, to establish a pipeline from discovery to early phase clinical trials, aiming to harness the therapeutic potential of reprogramming the key hormone receptor drivers of breast and prostate cancer.”

As our understandings of breast and prostate cancers increase, the similarities between the diseases are becoming more apparent. Professor Susan Clark, Head of the Genomics and Epigenetics Division says, “Genomic technologies are revealing that the genetic and epigenetic fingerprint of cancers, and their molecular drivers, are often more important in determining optimal treatment than their location in the body.”

The growth of both breast and prostate cancer tumours are driven by sex hormones, namely estrogens in breast cancer and androgens in prostate cancer.

The research team will investigate an innovative new concept for the treatment of breast and prostate cancers. Instead of trying to shut down the sex hormone receptors by blocking hormone production in the body, the team will test whether the receptors can instead be “reprogrammed” so that they no longer drive cancer growth but instead function as they would in a healthy breast or prostate gland.

The project involves researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, University of Adelaide, Monash University, Cancer Research UK, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, University of Liverpool, University of Toronto, University of Colorado, University of North Carolina and the Institute of Biology and Experimental Medicine in Argentina.