The Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer Breaks Ground, Announces Four Young Investigators to Advance Prostate Cancer Research

Canada/April 26, 2012—The Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer (CCPC) is a new Canadian Foundation—formed in the last year—committed to accelerating advanced research with the ultimate goal of ending death and suffering from prostate cancer. The non-profit organization has identified unique strategies to invest in the most promising research programs that generate life-saving results.

By channeling resources to Canada’s top scientific minds, the Coalition cuts red tape and encourages collaboration to speed breakthroughs and is a primary source for new standard-of-care research information. Funded researchers will have access to the world’s leading family of researchers through the Coalition’s sister organization, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, based in Santa Monica, CA. Shortly after formation, the Coalition secured $1 million in donations and began collecting applications from the country’s leading prostate cancer researchers.

The Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer has announced four Young Investigator awards. These competitive research awards are designed to identify, fund and promote innovative research projects within Canada.

The first CCPC Young Investigator awards were made possible by a generous donation from Pier Luigi Tolaini. The winning Young Investigators were recommended to the Board from the Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee and were approved during a first quarter Coalition Board of Directors meeting. Each Young Investigator recipient receives funding over a three-year period, which is also matched dollar-for-dollar by each recipient’s research institution. The first four CCPC Young Investigators are:

The 2012 Pier Luigi Tolaini – CCPC Young Investigator Award


Alexander Wyatt, PhD
Vancouver Prostate Centre
Mentor: Colin Collins, PhD

Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is a very aggressive, lethal subtype of advanced prostate cancer that is poorly understood, partly due to the lack of a good animal model in which to study the disease. Dr. Wyatt works with a unique next-generation mouse model study of NEPC created at the Vancouver Prostate Centre by transplanting patient tumor tissue into mice. Dr. Wyatt will conduct high coverage sequencing of DNA and RNA from the patients’ primary tumors and the mouse model at multiple time-points to reveal mechanisms and markers underlying the development of lethal NEPC. These findings will then be clinically validated in large patient cohorts, experimentally functionalized and therapeutically targeted. Dr. Wyatt’s studies will improve the understanding of advanced, lethal NEPC, aid risk stratification and identify candidate therapeutic strategies to help prevent, or improve the treatment of, NEPC.

The 2012 Pier Luigi Tolaini – CCPC Young Investigator Award


Barbara Lelj-Garolla, PhD
Vancouver Prostate Centre
Mentor: Martin Gleave, MD

Clusterin (CLU) is a protein highly overexpressed in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) that confers treatment resistance upon cancer cells and is correlated with poor prognosis. Dr. Barbara Lelj-Garolla proposes to study the biochemical and biophysical properties of CLU, detailing its interactions with other proteins in the cancer cell. Additionally, Dr. Barbara Lelj-Garolla will identify the precise three-dimensional structure of the Clusterin protein. The results of these structural studies will guide the design, screening and testing of inhibitory molecules against CLU. Elucidation of the precise 3-D structure of the pro-cancer protein, Clusterin, and the identification of potent Clusterin-inhibitors will facilitate the discovery of novel drugs and effective therapies for CRPC patients.

The 2012 Pier Luigi Tolaini – CCPC Young Investigator Award


Anthony Michael Joshua, MBBS, PhD
Princess Margaret Hospital
Mentor: Neil Fleshner, MD

The medication metformin is currently approved for diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Dr. Joshua proposes an interventional study to evaluate the use of metformin in preventing/delaying prostate cancer progression among men with low-risk disease. Dr. Joshua also proposes that the insulin-lowering activity of metformin will be effective against prostate cancer as insulin has pro-survival effects on tumors. Further, obesity/high insulin levels are known adverse prognostic factors for prostate cancer. In the interventional study, Dr. Joshua will study the effects of metformin on prostate tumor cell signaling and proliferation. He and his team will also quantify the tolerability of different doses of metformin in these low-risk prostate cancer patients, evaluating their effects in delaying cancer progression. These studies will define a subset of low-risk prostate cancer patients who will benefit from therapy with the medication, metformin in the active surveillance setting. These results will help in the design of a larger definitive trial focused on subgroups defined through this proposal.

The 2012 Pier Luigi Tolaini – CCPC Young Investigator Award


Shyh-Dar Li, PhD
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Mentor: Ian Tannock, MD, PhD

Chemotherapy with docetaxel is the treatment of choice for prostate cancer patients with progressive disease. However, most patients go off docetaxel due to poor drug tolerability, limited efficacy, and the development of drug resistance. Dr. Li and his team have developed a nanoparticle formulation for docetaxel (named Cellax) that exhibits increased tumor delivery, reduced toxicity and enhanced efficacy in multiple preclinical models. In this study, Dr. Li will compare Cellax with docetaxel in cumulative toxicity, treatment of metastatic and refractory disease and efficacy in docetaxel-resistant cancers. The Cellax nanoparticle formulation for docetaxel delivery to metastatic tumors holds promise and this study will evaluate the efficacy of this formulation in bone metastatic models of disease and under the docetaxel-resistant tumor setting.

“The four Young Investigators funded by the Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer will change the scope of prostate cancer research by advancing treatment sciences and improving patient lives throughout Canada,” said Don Konantz, Chairman of the Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer. “The creation of the foundation will accelerate our mission of responding to the ever-changing research landscape and facilitate data sharing across the country.”

For more on the 2012 Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer Young Investigator program and the Coalition, please visit

About the Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer

The Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer is a philanthropic organization that funds and accelerates advanced prostate cancer research in Canada. Beginning in 2011, the Coalition has identified unique strategies to invest in the most promising research programs that generate life-saving results. By channeling resources to Canada’s top scientific minds, red tape can be cut and collaboration to speed breakthroughs can be created. For more on the CCPC Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory Committee and opportunities to support the Coalition, please visit

About the Prostate Cancer Foundation

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating research. Founded in 1993, PCF has raised more than $479 million and provided funding to over 1,600 research projects at nearly 200 institutions in 15 countries around the world. PCF advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more efficient investment of governmental research funds supporting transformational cancer research. Our efforts have helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer. More information about PCF can be found at