The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) has made $1,725,000 in awards to three Dana-Farber researchers who are working to accelerate precision oncology treatments for men with prostate cancer.
The foundation is the world’s leading philanthropic organization dedicated to funding lifesaving research into prostate cancer, which affects 1 of every 8 adult males. Every year, about 35,000 men in the U.S. die from the disease and another 270,000 are newly diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. Since 1993, PCF has raised close to $1 billion to support cutting-edge research to improve the prevention, detection, and treatment of this cancer.
The foundation has awarded Dana-Farber’s Matthew Freedman, MD, its prestigious $1 million Movember-Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride-PCF Challenge Award. This will support ambitious team science that leverages knowledge of epigenetics to identify promising new treatments for metastatic prostate cancer, which has no known cure. Epigenetics is the study of how genes and gene programs are turned ‘on’ and ‘off’ in a cell. These gene programs are driven by proteins called transcription factors (TFs), which are fundamental in governing how a tumor progresses as well as how it responds to treatment.
Freedman and his team have identified a set of TFs that control the progression of prostate disease to a treatment-resistant, metastatic state. Their research is aimed at gaining fundamental insights into how those regulators work and how they might be targeted to prevent the disease from progressing.
“Thanks to this award, we have the potential to greatly expand therapeutic options for those patients who cannot be cured with currently available strategies,” said Freedman, whose coinvestigators include Mark Pomerantz, MD, Sylvan Baca, MD, PhD, and collaborators in the Netherlands.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is also supporting the work of Himisha Beltran, MD, who is co-directing a new Center of Excellence focused on facilitating best-in-class precision medicine for New England veterans with prostate cancer. The new Blavatnik Family Foundation – PCF Precision Oncology Center of Excellence at Dana-Farber and the Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System, is one of 13 funded by the PCF’s $50 million Veterans Health Initiative to deliver innovative, best-in-class care to veterans with prostate cancer.
Alok Tewari, MD, PhD, received the Advanced Accelerated Applications-PCF Young Investigator Award for his research into the mechanisms that cause high-risk localized prostate cancer to become resistant to intensive androgen therapy.
“We are proud to invest in the work of these gifted Dana-Farber physician-scientists because we know their discoveries will move us closer to our goal of reducing the death and suffering from prostate cancer,” said PCF President and CEO Charles J. Ryan, MD.