Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence
The prostate cancer research effort in PGJCCR is delivered by an experienced team of multidisciplinary researchers with a strong clinical and translational emphasis.
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer mortality in men in the Western world, with more than 1,200 men diagnosed in Northern Ireland annually and 290 men dying from this disease.
PGJCCR researchers are working to advance our understanding of prostate cancer, in particular the type that can cause death. We are researching better ways to prevent, detect, and treat prostate cancers. While most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will live a long time, ongoing challenges remain in developing and selecting the best treatment for individuals at each stage of their disease. This page highlights some of our key research areas in the PGJCCR.
Our research explores questions from the biological underpinnings of prostate cancer development, treatment response and treatment resistance to the social and environmental factors that affect prostate cancer risk. Other research has a strong clinical focus, seeking to translate basic research findings into improving patient outcomes through clinical trials. We also use information from patients to generate ‘big-data’, allowing us to dig deeper into the data e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and radiomics.
- Clinical Research
The clinical prostate research team is led by Professor Joe O'Sullivan and Professor Suneil Jain and includes Dr Laura Feeney (Medical Oncology) and Dr Aidan Cole (Clinical Oncology) working alongside NHS clinical colleagues including Dr Darren Mitchell as well as physicists Prof Alan Hounsell and Dr. Conor McGarry (Radiotherapy Physics), and Sandra Biggart (Radionuclide Physics), We are also supported by a team of research nurses and radiographers, as well as a clinical nurse. The team is based at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre and offers a comprehensive clinical trial portfolio to the prostate cancer population of Northern Ireland. As a team, they see more than 500 new prostate cancer patients per year, recruiting an average of 30% to clinical trials. Since 2016, we have been supported by a programme grant from Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) and Movember and, in September 2023, we will launch the Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence at Queen’s University Belfast funded by a large philanthropic donation. In addition, we have strong links with our local Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) group in Northern Ireland and we are very proud of our patient focussed approach to research.
The main themes of our clinical research programme include:
- The optimisation of radiation therapy in the management of prostate cancer in particular the role of stereotactic radiotherapy
- New therapeutics in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC)
- Radionuclide therapy in advanced prostate cancer
- Biomarker discovery and precision prostate cancer therapy
- Translational and Epidemiology Research
The clinically-focussed research is complemented by our pre-clinical translational and epidemiology research. The pre-clinical research focuses on understanding how genomics, organelle biogenesis and cell signalling are impacted by cancer treatments, particularly radiotherapy and androgen-receptor targeted agents, and affect the response of cancer cells and progression. Epidemiology research utilizes molecular tumour profiling to identify mechanisms linking dietary and lifestyle factors with cancer risk and progression.