Scientists from the University of Sheffield have been given £600,000 from Prostate Cancer UK to research how to stop the spread of prostate cancer.

The leading men’s health charity has awarded two grants to the University, to be put towards two separate studies, as part of their £2.7 million Research Innovation Awards scheme.

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The scheme encourages researchers to develop innovative, ambitious research proposals which challenge the status quo.

Stopping spread into bones

The first study will test whether various types of exercise can stop prostate cancer cells from moving into and growing in the bones.

Prostate cancer cells, marked in red by the arrows, adjoin to the bone marrow (picture: University of Sheffield)

It is being led by Dr Ning Wang, Research Fellow from the University’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism.

Dr Wang said: “When prostate cancer spreads it will more often than not go to the bones. This is not only extremely painful, it can be incredibly hard to treat.

“We know that exercise benefits bone health and we think that this could have the potential to prevent cancer cells from setting up camp in the bones.”

Cutting need for further treatment

The second study, led by Professors Claire Lewis, and Janet Brown, will investigate whether changing the behaviour of a type of white blood cell in prostate tumours could prevent the disease from redeveloping after primary treatment.

This could therefore postpone or remove the need for surgery, which may prevent the distressing side effects such as incontinence and impotence.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for prostate cancer research”

Claire Lewis, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pathology and Head of the Academic Unit of Inflammation and Tumour Targeting at the University of Sheffield, said: “The body has a lot of great defence mechanisms against cancer, but sometimes it needs a nudge in the right direction.

“It’s only through years of research into the basic biology of cancer that we’re now in the position we’re in today. This is an incredibly exciting time for prostate cancer research and we’re proud to be part of a movement which could bring about real change for men within our lifetimes.”

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