A new patient-partnered initiative aimed at encouraging men with metastatic prostate cancer to collaborate in research has been launched by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The online platform, called the Metastatic Prostate Cancer Project (MPC), allows men in the United States and Canada to volunteer medical data and help advance knowledge of the disease that is estimated to take 30,000 lives each year in the U.S.
So far, 220 men from both countries have enrolled in the program. Patients can join the project by:
- clicking “count me in” on the website, and completing a short form covering demographic information and medical history.
- signing an online consent form to give MPC researchers permission to collect their samples and data — after which they will receive saliva and blood-biopsy kits. The samples will allow researchers to compare patients’ genetic information with tumor DNA.
- signing up to receive regular updates as the project advances. Researchers will share any discoveries from the initiative, and may ask additional questions about patients’ experiences to help with future studies.
A particular challenge of metastatic prostate cancer is the variation in both diagnosis and survival rates, particularly across racial and ethnic backgrounds. Despite some studies that took a closer look at this issue, more research needs to be done and made accessible, so researchers can find answers together.
To address the potential need for global collaboration on challenges like this, MPC partners patients with researchers and nonprofit advocacy groups. All data created by the program will be shared with the medical community worldwide to accelerate research and understanding of this disease.
“Many researchers have been working to understand the genetic basis of both early stage and advanced prostate cancer, but patients are rarely, if ever, involved,” said project leader Eliezer Van Allen, MD. “To answer many important questions about metastatic prostate cancer, we need to engage patients as partners. Together with patients, we want to create a research program that can fuel new discoveries, reveal why patients respond differently to treatments, and uncover new genetic targets so that we can help current and future generations of men.”
MPC was modeled after the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, a collaborative program with metastatic breast cancer patients, patient advocates, cancer researchers, physicians, and clinical specialists.
Also led by Broad Institute and Dana-Farber investigators, the MBC Project now has more than 4,300 participants. The programs share a core commitment of partnering closely with patients to speed both drug discovery and biological understanding of cancer.
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