A potential treatment against prostate cancer discovered in Sherbrooke - The Canadian Cancer Society is giving $1.2 million to a team of Université de Sherbrooke and CHUS researchers

26 February 2013

Sherbrooke, QC -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) announced this morning that an Impact Grant of $1.2 million was awarded to a team of researchers from the Université de Sherbrooke (UdS) and CHUS to design a drug for advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is by far the most widespread cancer among Canadian men (affecting 1 in 7). “However, in the past 20 or 30 years, we haven’t really found a new treatment to offer them,” says Robert Day, head of the research project. Faced with an advanced cancer, standard anti-hormonal therapy allows patients to live a few years longer without curing them. In 2012, 4,100 men with prostate cancer died in Canada (890 in Quebec).

Testosterone makes prostate tumours grow. Hormone therapies block this growth, but after a few years, cancer cells adapt to the treatment and find other growth factors. The Sherbrooke team recently designed a drug prototype to block the action of PACE 4, an enzyme malfunctioning in all types of prostate cancer that enables cancer cells to multiply. “This promising medication inhibits the activation of a whole series of growth factors that nurtures cancer,” Dr Day explains. “In mice, when we block PACE 4, the effects are spectacular and the tumours stop growing.”

Claude Marsolais was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 51 years old. After a remission, he learned that the cancer had returned, and this time, it was incurable. “I have little time left to live. For me, it’s too late. But my hope is that thanks to Dr Day’s work, other men in my situation can be cured.”

With $1.2 million over five years, the purpose of the CCS’s Impact Grants is to invest a significant amount over several years in an already advanced research project to bring it to the next level. For the UdS and CHUS team, the very first patients may soon be able to benefit from this major breakthrough. “If everything goes well, I hope to start Phase I clinical testing within two or three years,” explains Dr Day. So, this grant has just rewarded more than 10 years of research.

In addition to the grant to the Sherbrooke team, the CCS is also awarding this morning 10 other Impact Grants ($13 million in total) to Canadian researchers, three of whom are in Quebec (for a total of $4.5 million).

“The CCS is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Since its inception, it has made it a point to invest in research to have a greater impact against the disease: to date, more than $1.2 billion has been awarded to researchers in the country,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director of the CCS – Quebec Division. “Today, thousands of Quebecers survive cancer thanks to their work and the Canadian Cancer Society wants to do more in the future because as our knowledge about cancer expands, we will witness even more remarkable progress.”

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444