Movember-PCF challenge award

Study leader and ‘Mo Bro’ Pete Nelson sprouts moustache to raise awareness of prostate cancer
Dr. Pete Nelson
Dr. Pete Nelson, Human Biology Division Photo by Bo Jungmayer

Dr. Pete Nelson of the Human Biology Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is principal investigator of a $1.5 million project funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and its partner, Movember. This global men’s health charity raises funds and awareness of men’s cancers by getting men, or “Mo Bros,” to sprout moustaches during the month of November.

‘My own attempt at growing a moustache has been a real conversation starter’

“Movember has done a remarkable job in raising awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer,” Nelson said. “If you see someone sprouting a new moustache, it may not be a fashion statement, but rather someone participating in Movember. My own attempt at growing a moustache has been a real conversation starter.”

Nelson and fellow “Mo Bros” at the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University and Baylor College of Medicine will use their Movember-PCF Challenge Award to accelerate scientific discovery and the development of new treatments for advanced prostate cancer.

Identifying new drivers of advanced prostate cancer in pursuit of a cure

“This project is designed to anticipate and address a problem that we believe will be very important in the future,” Nelson said. Currently, the androgen receptor is the major molecular engine within prostate cancer that drives its growth. Testosterone is the fuel for this engine. Major advances in the field are quite likely to extinguish androgen receptor signaling, which may cure a substantial number of patients.

“However, we know that cancers evolve quickly, and many will develop treatment resistance. This project is designed to identify new drivers of prostate cancer that bypass androgen signaling,” Nelson said.

Nelson and his colleagues aim to generate the basic, foundational knowledge needed to develop newer, more potent therapeutics for advanced prostate cancer that no longer respond to androgen-blocking treatment.

PCF rewards beyond ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking

The Movember-PCF Challenge Awards are designed to link researchers with diverse intellectual capabilities into productive, synergistic teams of investigators in strategic areas of prostate cancer research. The awards are given to projects not yet funded by government or philanthropic programs.

Nelson’s grant is one of six such awards funded this year. The six teams were selected in a global competition of more than 60 applicants from 45 research institutions in seven countries.

PCF funds projects that reflect not just “out-of-the-box” thinking but ideas for which no established “boxes” exist. To date, Movember has donated more than $18 million to PCF in support of prostate cancer research.

“We are very grateful to Movember for supporting this research, and we have put together a local Movember team, the MoDawgs, to get the word out,” Nelson said. The MoDawgs include Nelson and colleagues from Fred Hutch, University of Washington, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and VA Puget Sound.

This article was based in part on a joint PCF/Movember news release.

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