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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with 47,500 men diagnosed every year in the UK. Ulster University researchers have been awarded research funding from charity Prostate Cancer UK to explore a novel new combination treatment for patients with recurring prostate cancer.

The £210,000 funding is part of a three year funding pledge to investigate the use of ultrasound and “microbubble” technology to deliver anti-cancer treatments directly and safely into prostate tumours that have come back following initial treatment, which remains a clinical challenge. Lead researcher Professor John Callan will also investigate this treatment in combination with immunotherapy which primes the body’s immune system to attack the cancer.

Professor John Callan, The Norbrook Chair in Pharmaceutical Science at Ulster University commented: “Our SonoTarg technology enables us to deliver a combination of conventional chemotherapy and a new treatment called sonodynamic therapy more precisely to prostate tumours. As a result, we can use significantly smaller amounts of toxic chemotherapy but still get superior results, meaning the awful side-effects can be reduced. We have already demonstrated the effectiveness of SonoTarg in pancreatic and breast cancer and initial results suggest it will work well in prostate cancer too. This funding from Prostate Cancer UK will enable us to undertake more detailed experiments to optimise the treatment conditions and investigate how SonoTarg works in combination with immunotherapy”.

Simon Grieveson, Head of Research Funding at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Every year in the UK, over 9,000 men are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that has already spread around the body. There is an urgent need for new treatment options for these men, which is why Prostate Cancer UK is funding innovative research like this to benefit men diagnosed with a later stage of the disease. This innovative Microbubble technology could help solve the problem of making sure anti-cancer drugs are delivered straight to the tumour. This has the benefit of making the drug more effective at smaller doses, while also reducing negative side-effects. With prostate cancer on target to become the UK’s most common cancer by 2030, Prostate Cancer UK is investing millions to find better treatments like this one that could help save thousands of lives.”