April 19, 2018

Landmark study links tumour evolution to prostate cancer severity

Largest-ever study of its kind uses a tumour’s past to accurately predict its future

Toronto (April 19, 2018) – Findings from Canadian Prostate Cancer Genome Network (CPC-GENE) researchers and their collaborators, published today in Cell, show that the aggressiveness of an individual prostate cancer can be accurately assessed by looking at how that tumour has evolved. This information can be used to determine what type and how much treatment should be given to each patient, or if any is needed at all.

The researchers analyzed the whole genome sequences of 293 localized prostate cancer tumours, linked to clinical outcome data. These were then further analyzed using machine learning, a type of statistical technique, to infer the evolutionary past of a tumour and to estimate its trajectory. They found that those tumours that had evolved to have multiple types of cancer cells, or subclones, were the most aggressive. Fifty-nine per cent of tumours in the study had this genetic diversity, with 61 per cent of those leading to relapse following standard therapy.

“By incorporating time into the context of the existing knowledge we have about where a tumour is at diagnosis we were able to very accurately identify those patients whose prostate tumours needed no treatment, those men who could be cured by existing treatments, and those men who had very aggressive tumours and may have benefitted from novel therapeutic options,” says Dr. Paul Boutros, Principal Investigator, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and leader of CPC-GENE.

“Clinical decision making in treating prostate cancer can be very difficult. These findings pave the way for a new tool to improve our ability to determine the best approach for each individual patient, including sparing patients from unnecessary treatment or over-treatment and the associated side effects,” says Professor Robert Bristow, Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre at the University of Manchester U.K., formerly of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.

“Tumours are a community of related cancer cells, and by examining their DNA using machine learning, we can gain insight into how they evolved from normal cells. In this paper, we show that the past evolutionary history of a tumour helps predict whether that tumour will progress into an aggressive form,” says Dr. Quaid Morris, Associate Professor, The Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto, who collaborated with the CPC-GENE team on the study.

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men,” says Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. “Ontario congratulates this research team, whose work is pointing the way toward improved testing and treatment.”

The study’s findings are not its only contributions to prostate cancer research. The sequencing data generated during the course of the study are now freely available online to researchers worldwide to carry out further analyses, becoming the largest prostate cancer genomics resource available to-date.

CPC-GENE is a team of multidisciplinary researchers from across Canada working to crack the genetic code of prostate cancer. Through funding of approximately $20 million, research of this magnitude has been made possible through a partnership between the Movember Foundation, Prostate Cancer Canada, and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.  Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Vice-President of Research, Health Promotion and Survivorship at Prostate Cancer Canada, has released the following statement:

“From the tireless work of researchers to the selfless giving of donors, we applaud the efforts of everyone who has played a role in helping make CPC-GENE possible. Since its beginnings as an ambitious undertaking that was massive in scope, the goal of this project has been to greatly improve personalized care for men with prostate cancer. The findings published in Cell – widely considered one of the most prestigious and highest impact medical journals – represent a monumental stride towards that goal. Together, we will continue to advance this important work on behalf of the one in seven Canadian men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and their families.”

About Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is a collaborative, not-for-profit research institute focused on accelerating the translation of new cancer research discoveries to patients around the world while maximizing the economic benefit of this research for the people of Ontario. Funding for OICR is provided by the Government of Ontario.

About Prostate Cancer Canada
Prostate Cancer Canada is the leading national foundation dedicated to the elimination of the most common cancer in men through research, advocacy, education, support and awareness. As one of the largest investors in prostate cancer research in Canada, Prostate Cancer Canada is committed to continuous discovery in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and support. 

For more information, please contact:

Hal Costie
Senior Communications Officer
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Paulanne Jushkevich
VP, Philanthropy, Marketing and Communications
Prostate Cancer Canada
416-441-2131 ext 224

August 9, 2017

Mutation in prostate tumours shown to change epigenetic identity, the make-up of DNA

Prostate cancer researchers have mapped the impact of an acquired mutation that alters epigenetic identity, the make-up of DNA, in about 50 per cent of patient tumour samples. The discovery also identifies a new opportunity for targeted therapy.

Continue reading – Mutation in prostate tumours shown to change epigenetic identity, the make-up of DNA

March 16, 2017

Researchers discover new test that could change the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer

Dr. Paul Boutros

Genetic tests are being used more commonly in the diagnosis of many types of cancer. However, there currently isn’t a highly accurate test that can identify men with aggressive forms of prostate cancer, making it more difficult to choose the most appropriate course of treatment.

Continue reading – Researchers discover new test that could change the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer

January 10, 2017

New prognostic test for prostate cancer now closer to clinical use

Dr. Emilie Lalonde

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men, but there is still no one-size-fits-all strategy for treating the disease. Currently it is difficult to choose exactly the right type and amount of treatment for each individual because it is hard to accurately assess how aggressive the cancer is. Researchers are now a step closer to bringing a powerful new prognostic tool into clinical use.

Continue reading – New prognostic test for prostate cancer now closer to clinical use

November 9, 2016

The next generation: Tamara Jamaspishvili

Tamara Jamaspishvili

Men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer face a difficult dilemma: either wait and see how the growth develops and whether it is aggressive, or treat it fully right away and risk the many long-term side effects of treatment. Dr. Tamara Jamaspishvili is a young researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston who is working to change that.

Continue reading – The next generation: Tamara Jamaspishvili

October 12, 2016

OICR’s Natalie Fox awarded Philip Feldberg Studentship by Prostate Cancer Canada

Natalie Fox and supporters

Prostate cancer is a complex disease. In a clinical setting it can be hard for doctors to accurately predict outcomes for prostate cancer patients, especially for those deemed to be at an intermediate risk of recurrence. With intermediate risk cancers, unlike those that are high or low risk, it is unclear how the cancer will develop. This makes it difficult to choose exactly the right therapy and avoid unnecessary treatments and their associated side effects.

Continue reading – OICR’s Natalie Fox awarded Philip Feldberg Studentship by Prostate Cancer Canada

September 15, 2016

Dr. Paul Boutros talks genomics and prostate cancer research

Dr. Paul Boutros, Principal Investigator in Informatics and Bio-computing at OICR, spoke to our partners at Prostate Cancer Canada/Movember Canada about the role of genomics and informatics in prostate cancer research. Boutros also spoke about the CPC-GENE project – the largest study of prostate cancer genomics in the world.

June 1, 2016

Making prostate cancer diagnosis more PRECISE

Dr. Laurence Klotz of the Sunnybrook Research Institute

Dr. Laurence Klotz of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is a world leader in the field of prostate cancer research. He has been a champion of active surveillance (also known as watchful waiting) for over 20 years, an approach to prostate cancer treatment that has allowed thousands of men with low-risk prostate cancer to avoid or delay therapy by monitoring it closely instead of immediately treating it.

Now Klotz has launched a new clinical trial called PRECISE, funded with $3 million in support by the Movember Foundation, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Prostate Cancer Canada, that will use MRI to help to better diagnose prostate cancer without invasive biopsy.

Continue reading – Making prostate cancer diagnosis more PRECISE