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Canada Funds Prostate Cancer Chemogenomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Scientists at the Vancouver Prostate Centre will use C$324,000 ($318,000) in new funding to conduct chemogenomic screening of millions of compounds in search of potential new drugs to treat prostate cancer, Genome British Columbia said Monday.

Genome BC awarded the researchers C$162,000 from its Strategic Opportunities Fund, and the remaining support came from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and from the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

The aim of the project is to screen as many as 10 million compounds that could be used to develop a novel class of drugs that are less likely to be resisted in patients for whom current drugs offer only temporary effectiveness.

Current prostate cancer treatments use drugs that either block or bind a male hormone receptor, effectively shrinking tumors. However, for many men these treatments become ineffective because the cancer cells begin to resist treatment. Life expectancy for patients who resist these treatments is less than 18 months, according to Genome BC.

"The impact of this project on patient survival could be tremendous if we can develop a new drug that avoids this resistance issue," grant recipient Art Cherkasov, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia and researcher at the Centre, said in a statement.

The researchers plan to use 3D computer modeling and computational chemogenomics to gauge the potential effectiveness of certain chemicals in targeting prostate tumors.

"What we are seeing is that with virtual screening we are able to narrow down what drugs we should be taking through to testing in the laboratory or the clinical trial stage," Cherkasov added.

Currently, it can take as long as 10 years or more to get a compound to the stage of testing in humans, but virtual screening "is expected to shave years off the typical discovery process for new drug candidates and will allow scientists to identify and test the most promising chemical compounds more rapidly," added co-investigator Paul Rennie, who is director of laboratory research at the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

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