Fuelling life-changing advances in prostate cancer care

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian men and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian men. CCS-funded researchers Drs Thomas Kislinger and Étienne Audet-Walsh are making important discoveries that could improve prostate cancer care in Canada.

Many prostate cancers progress slowly, and do not need to be treated at all. Some advanced tumours can be treated successfully with radiation or surgery. Others grow and spread aggressively and respond poorly to treatment.

“By identifying biomarkers that predict tumour behaviour, we believe we’ll save some men’s lives and for others, we’ll be able to help spare them from unnecessary treatments and procedures which can have their own risks and also impact their quality of life,” says Kislinger.

But what about when prostate cancer comes back? When prostate cancer recurs, it may often become increasingly resistant to hormone-suppressing therapies, which are the usual first-line of defense. Without this treatment available, men with recurrent prostate cancer have few options.

That’s why another CCS-funded researcher, Dr Étienne Audet-Walsh is looking for new ways to target and shut down treatment-resistant prostate cancers that have returned after hormone therapy. His team is harnessing the AMPK protein, which is known to be involved in regulating the growth and function of cancer cells.

“Prostate cancer cells appear to rely on AMPK to grow and spread,” says Dr Audet-Walsh. “If we can block AMPK, it’s far easier to bring aggressive prostate cancer under control.”

Dr Audet-Walsh’s team is disrupting what researchers have previously learned about how AMPK works. While some studies are looking at ways to ‘switch on’ AMPK, the work done by Dr Audet-Walsh’s team suggests that to starve and kill prostate cancer cells, they actually need to switch AMPK off.

“Our early results indicate that AMPK works differently with prostate cancers than other types of cancer,” says Dr Audet-Walsh. “Our findings on AMPK go against everything we know, or think we know about this protein.”

With the support of CCS donors, both Dr Kislinger and Dr Audet-Walsh are making discoveries with immense potential to transform care for people with prostate cancer – sparing people from treatments they don’t need and opening new doors to treating drug-resistant and recurrent prostate tumours.

By making a donation in honour of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, you can accelerate life-saving and life-changing prostate cancer research and help improve care for people with prostate cancer. Click here to donate today and help create a future without prostate cancer.

Dr Audet-Walsh
Dr Kislinger