Project No. 02

Prostate Cancer Stem Cells

Investigating prostate cancer to find safer therapies and better diagnoses

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S c r o l l   R i g h t

The Project

The Stem Cells project is working to repurpose off-the-shelf drugs to treat prostate cancer.

How?

After discovering that a signalling system in prostate cancer stem cells are overactive, which causes them to multiple uncontrollably and spread around the body. Dr Ahmed and his team are working to use existing drugs to inhibit this.

The Medicine

The Membrane Potential Regulating Compounds (MPRCs) are existing drugs that have been shown to inhibit the spread of cancer cells.

What could this achieve?

Because the drugs are already available to treat other illnesses, we know they are safe and very cheap, meaning they could be used to stop the spread of cancer cells relatively quickly.

The Future

Dr Ahmed hopes to identify three drugs to test in chemical trials. The wealth of data on these drugs mean the treatment could be available relatively soon.

The Project

The Stem Cells project is working to repurpose off-the-shelf drugs to treat prostate cancer.

How?

After discovering that a signalling system in prostate cancer stem cells are overactive, which causes them to multiple uncontrollably and spread around the body. Dr Ahmed and his team are working to use existing drugs to inhibit this.

The Medicine

The Membrane Potential Regulating Compounds (MPRCs) are existing drugs that have been shown to inhibit the spread of cancer cells.

What could this achieve?

Because the drugs are already available to treat other illnesses, we know they are safe and very cheap, meaning they could be used to stop the spread of cancer cells relatively quickly.

The Future

Dr Ahmed hopes to identify three drugs to test in chemical trials. The wealth of data on these drugs mean the treatment could be available relatively soon.

Project Start

May 2018

Research Facility

Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, King’s College London

Budget

£100,000/year

End

April 2023

Impact

PCRC systematically monitors and evaluates the impact of our research using a set of metrics, or ‘Research Progress Indicators.’ They represent an outcome of research which is a catalyst for the development of new prostate cancer therapies. In the last 12 months, our Prostate Cancer Stem Cell project has achieved the following results.

Creating and Disseminating New Knowledge

  • Four publications:
    • Arthurs, CJ, Murtaza, BN, Thomson, C, Dickens, K, Henrique, R, Patel, HR, Beltran, M, Millar, M, Thrasivoulou, C and Ahmed, A. Expression of ribosomal proteins in normal and cancerous human prostate tissue. Oct 2017, PLOS One.
    • Petrou T, Olsen HL, Thrasivoulou C, Masters JR, Ashmore JF, Ahmed A. Intracellular Calcium Mobilization in Response to Ion Channel Regulators via a Calcium-Induced Calcium Release Mechanism. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2017;360(2):378-87.
    • Giuliano A, Swift R, Arthurs C, Marote G, Abramo F, McKay J, et al Ahmed, A. Quantitative Expression and Co-Localization of Wnt Signaling Related Proteins in Feline Squamous Cell Carcinoma. PLoS One. 2016;11(8):e0161103.
    • Arya M, Thrasivoulou C, Henrique R, Millar M, Hamblin R, Davda R, Aare, K, Masters, J, Thomson, C, Muneer, A, Patel, H, and Ahmed, A. Targets of wnt/ß-catenin transcription in penile carcinoma. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0124395.
  • One paper submitted for publication – Ashmore, J, Olsen, H, Sorensen, N, Thrasivoulou, C and Ahmed, A. Wnts control the cell membrane potential. Submitted to Cell.
  • ‘Back to the Future: Repurposing Drugs for Cancer Therapy’ (July 2017). Brought together representatives from PCRC, multiple London universities and hospitals, and Porto’s Instituto Português Oncologia (Portuguese Oncology Unit)
  • Lecture: Biophysical Society meeting, New Orleans, February 2017

Growing Expertise

Dr Ahmed has recently assembled a team of collaborators to further the cause of drug repurposing for prostate cancer therapy. This is a massive enterprise which aims at best to cure tumours, or at least, to slow tumor growth to extend the life span of prostate cancer patients with a much better quality of life than is possible with the current drug treatments.

In addition, a number of PhD students are being trained in Dr Ahmed’s Stem Cell and Prostate Cancer Group.

Scientific Progress

A major discovery made by Dr Ahmed and his collaborators was that chemicals which interact with the Wnt protein control how cells use energy to control what comes in and out of them. This novel observation could have profound implications for how we understand Wnt signalling.

In Vitro and In Vivo Tests

A selection of MPRCs were tested in vitro and in vivo to measure how they affected cellular processes normally controlled by Wnt, when used at different doses. Successful in vivo experiments showed that 2 MPRCs can be used, at a single dose, to slow tumour growth.

Epidemiology

In collaboration with Dr Norman Williams at the University College London clinical trials unit, Dr Ahmed started investigating whether men on MPRCs for other diseases were more or less likely to develop prostate cancer. This work has potential to open doors to prostate cancer prevention.

Biomarkers

Over 500 prostate cancer tissue samples from 5 different centres have been collected and are being tested for protein “biomarkers,” special proteins which can give signals as to how the cancer will behave. For example, “predictive biomarkers,” which Dr Ahmed’s team is working to identify, can predict whether a tumour will be indolent or aggressive. A small number of proteins have been identified and are being investigated as potential biomarkers.

Help us fund a future for men and their families

As a small charity, we can focus the majority of our funds on research.

Support Us

Support the Prostate Cancer Stem Cells Project

Any donation you can make will help us fund this cutting-edge, life-saving research.

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