September 28, 2017 - The Movember Foundation and Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC)today announced the recipients of their 2017 Discovery Grants. Of the 12 awardees across Canada, two are Schulich Medicine & Dentistry researchers. Alison Allan, PhD, acting chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and John Ronald, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics and a Robarts Research Institute scientist, were chosen based on novel research projects that have the potential to make a significant difference in prostate cancer research.
“With this new funding, we are generating new knowledge with the aim of uncovering new hope for the one in seven Canadian men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime,” said Dr. Stuart Edmonds, PCC Vice President of Research, Health Promotion and Survivorship.
For Allan, the funding means the opportunity to test new ideas related to metastasis and circulating tumor cells, or CTCs. “CTCs have a lot of promise as biomarkers for prostate cancer progression and treatment response,” Allan said. “The proposed work will identify key characteristics of the most aggressive CTCs, thus laying the groundwork for future development of new therapies to target these properties and ultimately improve treatment of prostate cancer metastasis.”
She says the funding is important to be able to take a risk on a preliminary project that has the potential for “high reward.”
Ronald will be working with Allan and Dr. Michael Lock on a separate project which will use the funding to continue to develop a brand-new approach to cancer detection using “smart” DNA-based rings called tumour-activatable minicircles.
“With this important investment from the Movember Foundation and Prostate Cancer Canada, my co-investigators and I now have the opportunity to, for the first time, refine and expand this technology into urinary tests, and to determine whether it can be used for reporting on the aggressiveness of prostate cancer,” Ronald said, adding that the funding has allowed his research program to go into an entirely new direction. “We are excited and grateful to have this opportunity.”