Belfast researchers pioneer research into improving radiotherapy for men with prostate cancer

An exciting new research project aimed at dramatically improving the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment for men affected by prostate cancer is taking place at Queen's University Belfast.

New and improved treatments are desperately needed for men with advanced prostate cancer, it is hoped that the three year project will identify a new approach using radiotherapy - a commonly used treatment - to treat the disease more effectively.

Funded by a £99,273 PhD research grant awarded by The Prostate Cancer Charity, this innovative project will first seek to understand how a man's prostate cancer becomes resistant to radiotherapy. Following this, the researchers will test a combination of existing drug treatments alongside radiotherapy to overcome this resistance. It is hoped that the cancer will become more sensitive to radiotherapy and thereby improve the success of the treatment to stop the disease in its tracks.

Lead researcher at Queen's University Belfast's Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Professor of Radiation Biology Kevin Prise, said: "The use of radiotherapy to treat prostate cancer is currently restricted by the cancer's ability to develop resistance to the treatment. Drugs exist which can help to 'sensitise' the cancer cells to radiotherapy, and in this study we will use these drugs in combination with radiotherapy to try and improve the success of prostate cancer treatment using techniques that are already available."

The grant has been awarded, as part of The Prostate Cancer Charity's ongoing programme of investment in research to help tackle this disease. This year, the Charity has awarded over £2 million - its largest research investment to date - to institutions across the UK to improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

Dr Kate Holmes, Research Manager at The Prostate Cancer Charity said: "Radiotherapy has been used for a number of years to treat prostate cancer. However, in some cases the tumour develops resistance and does not respond well to this treatment. We hope that this new research will be able to improve the success of radiotherapy, so that it can be used to kill more cancer cells and further delay the spread of the disease in many more men. We are looking forward to working closely with the team and eagerly await the results of the study."