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Ulster University researchers given £250k grant for pioneering prostate cancer work


Professor John Callan

Professor John Callan

Professor John Callan

Ulster University researchers have received a grant worth more than £250k from men's health charity Prostate Cancer UK.

The funding will help them develop a pioneering new method of treating prostate cancer which uses tiny microbubbles to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumour.

The grant is part of the charity's Research Innovation scheme, which this year has awarded £2.8m to eight research projects across the UK.

Now in its fourth year, the scheme has invested over £11m so far to fund research with the potential to transform the lives of men with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the disease kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK. Around 200 men die from it every year in Northern Ireland.

The researchers, led by Professor John Callan, have identified a new combination treatment which could be used to treat prostate cancer that has returned after initial treatment. Normal chemotherapy is not always effective at treating this form of the disease.

The team will investigate the combination of chemotherapy with a new treatment called sonodynamic therapy. They are developing a way to package these drugs into microscopic packets (microbubbles), which can deliver the treatment.

Professor Callan said: "We're thrilled to have found a new combination treatment that could offer men a new treatment after current techniques have stopped working.

"Unfortunately, one of the drugs has pretty harmful side-effects. That's why we're testing a new delivery system that uses microscopic packages, which only burst when they come into contact with ultrasound waves targeted at the tumour.

"This technique means a toxic dose of treatment can be delivered just to the cancer, without causing side-effects. We hope to show that this treatment is safe and effective so that we can make a case to test it directly in clinical trials."

Belfast Telegraph