Developing novel drugs to combat prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men with almost 50, 000 new cases a year. Many men with prostate cancer receive hormone treatment, which works by stopping male hormones like testosterone feeding the cancer and has been the mainstay treatment for the last 75 years.

The problem is that some cancers become resistant to hormone treatment. Testosterone works by binding to a protein inside prostate cells called the androgen receptor. Many prostate cancer drugs work by attaching to the androgen receptor, physically blocking hormones from being able to switch it on. However, in some men, the androgen receptor itself changes shape, so that it is always switched on.

Professor Iain McEwan is leading a drug discovery research programme to explore new ways to attack treatment-resistant cancer by switching off both normal and rogue forms of the receptor protein. This work is being done in partnership with the medicinal chemistry group of Dr Craig Jamison (University of Strathclyde), and in collaboration with a local biopharma company, Elasmogen.

Our highly innovative approach marries chemistry with the development of protein-based drugs, soloMERsTM, and if successful has the potential to significantly improve the outcome for men with advanced disease. This work recently received major funding of £400,000 from the charity Prostate Cancer Research Centre (PCRC).

Professor Iain McEwan

Find out more about Professor McEwan’s work.