Project No. 10

AI: Computing solutions for prostate cancer

Is your prostate cancer a tiger or a pussycat?

S c r o l l   R i g h t

What could this achieve?

This project aims to develop a new way to classify prostate cancer. This could help doctors decide the best treatment option for individual patients depending on their prostate cancer subtype. This kind of “disease classification” has already improved the treatment of other diseases, like breast cancer.

How?

Dr Brewer and his team will use complicated mathematical and artificial intelligence tools to analyse a huge amount of data from the PanProstate Cancer Group. This analysis will enable them to discover disease subtypes that may behave differently to each other.

The Future- what’s next?

The team have already proposed two novel classifications based on their research. They will now apply their techniques to the data from the PanProstate Cancer Group - a particularly large amount of already existing data - to develop a new classification system.

What could this achieve?

This project aims to develop a new way to classify prostate cancer. This could help doctors decide the best treatment option for individual patients depending on their prostate cancer subtype. This kind of “disease classification” has already improved the treatment of other diseases, like breast cancer.

How?

Dr Brewer and his team will use complicated mathematical and artificial intelligence tools to analyse a huge amount of data from the PanProstate Cancer Group. This analysis will enable them to discover disease subtypes that may behave differently to each other.

The Future- what’s next?

The team have already proposed two novel classifications based on their research. They will now apply their techniques to the data from the PanProstate Cancer Group - a particularly large amount of already existing data - to develop a new classification system.

Project Start

March 2020

Research Facility

University of East Anglia

Budget

£110,000/year

End

March 2024

Tigers and Pussycats

Prostate cancer is the name used for all cancers that start in the prostate. However, prostate cancer tumours can be very different from each other. Some cancers are pussycats- they grow very slowly and remain confined to the prostate for decades, causing little if any effect on the individual. Others are tigers- they grow rapidly, are aggressive, and lead to advanced disease. At the moment, for many tumours, it is very difficult to know the best way to treat an individual’s prostate cancer as we do not have a reliable way of sorting the tigers from the pussycats.

 

Developing a classification system to sort and identify disease subtypes that behave differently has already radicalised the treatment of other diseases, like breast cancer. Different cancers have unique features which may make them particularly suitable for a certain type of treatment. For example, breast cancers containing a mutation in the HER2 gene respond very well to the drug Herceptin. In terms of prostate cancers, tumours with a mutation in a BRCA gene have been shown to respond well to PARP inhibitor treatment.

Prostate Cancer Research Centre funded researchers Dr Daniel Brewer and Dr David Wedge talk about their work developing a new way to classify prostate cancer.

WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR PROSTATE CANCER PATIENTS?

The researchers will develop a new way to classify prostate cancer and separate the tigers from the pussycats. This will mean that patients can receive personalised treatments based on the characteristics and behaviour of their individual cancer.

Identifying cancers that grow quickly or are unlikely to grow at all can also help to decide if treatment is even needed in the first place. Avoiding unnecessary treatment in slow growing disease means fewer patients will experience life changing side-effects.

Daniel's Research Project

The researchers will use machine learning techniques to analyse a huge amount of molecular data collected from prostate cancer samples supplied by the PanProstate Cancer Group. First, the samples will be categorised into known prostate cancer subtypes then novel subtypes will be established. The researchers will then identify the features or characteristics that are related to the spread of prostate cancer and advanced disease. These features will also be investigated in more detail to see if they affect the patient’s response to treatment.

The Future

The researchers have already identified two novel subtypes of prostate cancer from machine learning analysis of 159 cancers. They will now expand their analysis to the approximately 2000 samples from the PanProstate Cancer Group. In the future, they hope that their new classification system could be used by doctors to inform personalised treatment pathways for prostate cancer patients.

Collaborations and Partnerships

This project is a collaboration between three scientists: Dr Daniel Brewer from the University of East Anglia; Dr David Wedge from the University of Oxford; and Dr Dan Woodcock from the University of Oxford. The researchers are part of both the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) UK prostate project and the PanProstate Cancer Group.

“One of the big problems in prostate cancer is that despite being highly variable there are no well-defined disease subtypes that are used in clinical practice. In breast cancer, the discovery of subgroups has underpinned better treatment strategies and patient outcomes, and we want to do the same in prostate cancer. We are really excited to be given the opportunity by PCRC to perform this amazing research and hope that a result there will be a radical improvement in the way prostate cancer patients are treated.”

Dr Daniel Brewer
Press enter or esc to cancel