The Federal Government established and funded the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre at Epworth Healthcare in Victoria in 2008. Since this time the APCRC Victoria has led a number of exciting advancements in prostate cancer research including:
• Development of novel risk stratification tests for detection of high risk disease in the early stages of the disease: Determining the potential lethality of prostate cancer at an early stage would have a significant impact upon disease outcome. We are using both unbiased screens and hypothesis driven approaches a number of different biological specimens for potential markers of clinical outcome. We have identified 2 lead candidates that have the potential to identify the presence of high-risk disease through the identification of an associated field effect, which now require translation into a more clinically useful platform, and then analytic and clinical validation. To do this we have engaged with a number of research groups (i.e. University of Western Australia, University of Melbourne) for access to independent validation cohorts, as well as having preliminary discussions with prospective commercial partners. In addition, within the next 12 months we anticipate that our lethal program will deliver a tissue based metastatic signature that may be similarly translated into a clinically useful test.
• Lethal Sequencing Program: The multidimensional analysis of paired primary and metastatic prostate samples, including bone metastasis, is a unique program worldwide, and has attracted significant interest and collaboration from major groups worldwide (i.e. Sanger Centre, Cancer Research UK, University of British Columbia). The unique datasets generated have formed the basis of formal collaborations going forward, with both national and international groups.
• Engagement of public and private practitioners not usually associated with research: Prostate cancer research in Victoria has traditionally taken the form of commercially driven phase 3 studies in stand-alone urology or medical oncology units. As a significant proportion of prostate cancer patients are diagnosed and treated in the private sector, this traditional model of research delivery may exclude insured patients access to potentially beneficial new treatments, while limiting research capacity by decreasing the potential pool of recruitable patients. Through our advanced prostate cancer clinic we have been able to engage large numbers of urologists and medical oncologists from both the public and private sector, across multiple catchments, with our investigator-initiated trials. This engagement facilitates large-scale validation pipeline opportunities for the key areas of need we have identified in patient care, as well as the real therapeutic opportunity offered by our trials.