Queen’s University Belfast in Collaboration with Almac Group Lead Largest Study of its Kind to Transform Prostate Cancer Treatment
October 23, 2017
Queen’s University Belfast have led the world’s largest research study using a diagnostic test developed by Almac Diagnostic Services, to better understand the biology of prostate cancer tumours, which could lead to a transformation in how prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated.
Whether a prostate cancer patient has a slow-growing or aggressive tumour will affect the type of treatment required. It is only through understanding the type and genetics of the particular cancer tumour that clinicians will be able to put an effective treatment plan in place.
Lead researcher, Dr Suneil Jain from the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast explains: “Current diagnosis of prostate cancer involves biopsies, scans and blood tests to determine how aggressive the cancer is and subsequently to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Doctors repeatedly report that these tools aren’t always effective in determining how aggressive the cancer is, which can mean it is difficult to decide on the best treatment for an individual patient.”
Global Personalised medicine company Almac Diagnostic Services has developed a gene expression biomarker, known as Metastatic Assay, which aims to identify prostate cancer patients with aggressive disease. The test analyses the genetics of the tumour enabling clinicians to understand the type of tumour, whether it is a slow-growing or aggressive and if the latter, to what extent.
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast led the world’s largest study of this kind, using Metastatic Assay on prostate biopsies from 248 patients who had previously been treated for prostate cancer. The research findings, published in Annals of Oncology, found the diagnostic test to be more effective than the standard clinical tests.
Professor Richard Kennedy, Global VP and Medical Director at Almac Diagnostic Services and McClay Professor in Medical Oncology at Queen’s University Belfast commented: “The assay has now proven to be superior to conventional clinical tests at predicting aggressive disease in two independent studies, the first of which used surgical tissue, while this study used tissue taken from needle biopsy. We believe it will play an important role in identifying men who may benefit from treatment intensification.”
Treatment options available to prostate cancer patients include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy and hormone therapy. Although radiotherapy is often used to effectively treat patients with prostate cancer, 20- 30% of patients can relapse within five years. Dr Jain explains: “The relapse of many prostate patients could be avoided through undergoing more intensive treatment including higher dosages of radiotherapy. There are also potential side-effects associated with administering more intensive treatment so a test that enables us to deliver the right treatment to the right patient would be extremely beneficial in clinical practice.”
The project was funded by Prostate Cancer UK and the Movember Centre of Excellence, a joint venture between Queen’s University Belfast and academic colleagues in Manchester.
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “This research could provide clinicians with the answers they need to identify which cancers are likely to spread and give men peace of mind that the decision they make regarding their treatment is the right one. It’s still early days but it’s great to see how the work taking place at the Movember Centres of Excellence has the potential to bring about real change for men. We look forward to further results.”
Notes to Editor
1. About Almac Diagnostic Services
Almac Diagnostic Services is a global personalised medicine company focused on the discovery, development and commercialisation of diagnostic tests including companion diagnostics. Our approach to personalised medicine is poised to change the way that medicines are developed, regulated and prescribed. We partner with biopharma companies to provide solutions ranging from pre-clinical biomarker discovery to companion diagnostic development including regulatory submissions and commercialisation. We also facilitate biomarker clinical trial management and clinical test delivery from our CLIA-accredited lab. The tests developed at Almac Diagnostic Services have a wide range of applications including patient selection, and are utilised in phase I to phase III registrational clinical trials.
An emphasis on scientific and technological excellence combined with a committed and passionate multi-functional team, puts Almac Diagnostic Services in a leadership position to take companion and other diagnostic tests all the way through development and to commercialisation.
About Almac Group
‘Partnering to Advance Human Health’
The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation that provides an extensive range of integrated services to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally. The services range from R&D, biomarker discovery development and commercialisation, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IXRS® technology (IVRS/IWRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture.
The international company is a privately owned organisation that has organically grown over almost 50 years and now employs in 5600 highly skilled personnel. Almac is headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland with operations in the UK, Ireland, across the US (Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California) and in Asia (Singapore and Tokyo).
2. The Movember Centre of Excellence is based within the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s University Belfast. The Movember Centre of Excellence was launched in 2014 in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK. The Belfast-Manchester centre specifically aims to improve outcomes for men living with advanced disease.
For further information visit: prostatecanceruk.org/research/