The creation of the Prostate Cancer Network will be an important step in helping men across the state who are at risk for prostate cancer, or who already have the disease. However, the success of the Prostate Cancer Network depends upon participation, and we believe that participation is enhanced through knowledge and partnerships.
The IPCR will ensure that men and their families, through well-planned community outreach,
will learn about the advantages of becoming part of the network.
- First, the IPCR will: Develop an interactive portfolio that provides information (in lay language) concerning state-of-the-art approaches for prostate cancer prevention and treatment, Provide information on ongoing prostate cancer research and clinical treatment studies — not only to encourage participation in clinical research, but also to empower men as they face complicated decisions about their care, and Work to provide patient-focused programming, such as educational programs on UWTV, local and regional outreach, and an annual public symposium on prostate cancer research and clinical care.
- Second, the IPCR will cultivate participation in the Prostate Cancer Network through physician education and by: Establishing formal relationships with regional medical centers, beginning with those in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s network and the UW Medicine health system, and then expanding throughout the state and region, Conducting physician outreach events at medical centers, Participating in regional and national conferences, and Providing physicians with educational materials to help educate and recruit patients to research studies.
With the creation of the IPCR, the Seattle area has become a nexus for prostate cancer research and care. This is an advantage for the men who can travel to Seattle to receive care or participate
in clinical trials. But what about the men who cannot?
We plan to address this challenge by building a statewide Prostate Cancer Network, with Seattle
as the hub. The network will allow us to recruit participants to new ACT-SMART studies,
genetic studies and prevention studies. It also will act as a two-way conduit, enhancing research
by increasing patient participation and speeding the delivery of promising new approaches to
men across the state.
There are multiple and significant benefits to this plan.
- First, network member organizations will be able to offer more and better options to their patients, so that men can receive up-to-the-minute care in their own communities rather than having to travel long distances to the closest medical center.
- Second: the network will allow the IPCR to offer thousands more men the ability to participate in clinical trials than is possible today. Finally, researchers will gain access to a larger and more diverse patient population for conducting studies and tracking patient outcomes.
Expanding upon Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s network as well as our experience in recruiting large numbers of research participants, the IPCR will partner with regional medical centers and prostate cancer caregivers to establish Washington as a national model for accelerating research and improving care.
Besides curing men with active prostate cancer, researchers also want to prevent it from starting
or relapsing. Accordingly, we will launch a separate program that will complement the IPCR’s work in clinical trials, prostate cancer avatars and genomic research.
This program — the Prostate Cancer Prevention Center — will focus on two related tasks:
- Preventing prostate cancer and
- Preventing disease relapse in patients who already have been diagnosed.
Like the other components of the Act Smart Initiative, the center will help accelerate research by involving more men in groundbreaking studies and giving them access to leading-edge prevention programs.
First, the center will offer prostate cancer patients the opportunity to become involved in
prevention research undertaken at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine. This research includes lifestyle and drug intervention studies aimed at prolonging disease-free survival — and improving quality of life — for men who have had or who currently have
At the same time, we will work with men with inactive cancer to identify and develop a panel of molecular markers that can be used to more precisely predict a patient’s prognosis.
Second, the center will include a Prostate Cancer Prevention Clinic for men who do not have prostate cancer. This clinic will be modeled on successful programs for breast, ovarian and lung cancers at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a partnership that includes UW Medicine, the Hutchinson Center and Seattle Children’s.
At the prevention clinic, men at high risk for getting prostate cancer and susceptible family
members will be able to access evidence-based, cancer-related services, such as genetic counseling and prostate cancer screening, as well as strategies aimed at reducing cancer risk, such as weight loss and smoking cessation programs. Patients also will be able to participate in research directed toward identifying the biological factors that influence prostate cancer risk.
Scientists have known for years that the human genome holds important molecular keys to
understanding and overcoming disease. The information encoded in the DNA (i.e., genes) of
patients and their tumors has the potential to help us tailor treatment, postpone cancer
recurrence and, eventually, prevent tumor formation.
To unlock this tremendous potential, we must take advantage of state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technologies. We also must expand the IPCR’s resources for extracting and applying genetic data from blood, tumor and other biological samples. (Such samples will be collected from men with prostate cancer and men at high risk for the disease.)
Collectively, data from genetic analyses will serve as a valuable reservoir that researchers can plumb to better understand this complex disease: why some tumors are aggressive, for instance, while others are indolent; why some tumors respond well to certain therapies, while others quickly develop resistance.
IPCR researchers also intend to use genetic data to create better care plans for individual men, plans that include more accurate risk assessments and more informative, detailed diagnoses. Collectively, these plans will produce a “precision medicine” approach that involves customizing therapeutic strategies to enhance treatment responses and reduce side effects.
Clinical trials — evaluating the benefits of new treatments in patients — are a vital part of
medical research. But testing new therapeutics usually starts with model systems in the laboratory.
Building on the pioneering work of Robert Vessella, Ph.D., we will expand our library of 26
tumor avatars — models of prostate tumors taken directly from patients — that represent a broad spectrum of prostate cancer subtypes. With this resource at hand, IPCR scientists will be able to test novel therapeutics quickly and effectively, and the results will direct our ACT-SMART studies in humans.
The tumor avatar library will help us discover, for example, which drugs are likely to work best in particular patients. We’ll be able to determine whether specific sequences or combinations of drugs show more potential than a single drug, without having to expose patients to potentially ineffective and toxic drugs.
By using tumor avatars and other tools, we can enhance translational research and hasten the flow of leading-edge approaches from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside.
Testing new treatments is key to progress in prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the current model for conducting clinical trials — evaluating the effectiveness of therapies on human subjects — leaves something to be desired. Only one drug can be tested in each trial, and the time and cost
involved reduce the total number of novel approaches that can be evaluated and slow the pace
Dramatic scientific advances in molecular biology now offer the opportunity for much better strategies. IPCR faculty members aim to exploit these opportunities and establish a program that follows a new, dynamic and flexible model: the adaptive clinical trial.
In the adaptive clinical trial, researchers use what they learn from each patient to make real-time adjustments as the trial proceeds. In this way, time and resources are diverted from unsuccessful strategies to more promising ones, enhancing both the pace of research and the quality of
Through our program, called Adaptive Clinical Trials-Survey, Measure and Redirect Therapy, or ACT-SMART, we will be able to carry out studies that evolve in response to the information they are generating. We will initially target patients with advanced, metastatic prostate cancer. Later, we will expand activities to include men with high-risk, localized disease.
By more rapidly improving our understanding of prostate cancer and its variation in individual patients, ACT-SMART trials will speed the development of strategies that match treatments (and secondary prevention approaches) to a patient’s needs.