Prostate cancer, accolades for two IOR researchers

Group photo of the winners at the PCF Challenge Awards 2019
Group photo of the winners at the PCF Challenge Awards 2019

Institutional Communication Service

8 November 2019

A research project on prostate cancer conducted at the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR, affiliated to USI), won a PCF Challenge Award 2019 worth $1 million at the annual conference of the PCF Prostate Cancer Foundation, the leading U.S. agency in the field, on October 25 in Carlsbad, California. The study of the international research team, led by Prof. Andrea Alimonti, group leader at the IOR and Full professor at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in June 2018. Dr. Arianna Calcinotto, also group leader at the IOR, was awarded the PCF Young Investigator Award.

The award conferred to Prof. Alimonti shows the relevance of the study conducted at the IOR (Targeting Tumor-Infiltrating Myeloid Cells for Prostate Cancer Therapy), which presents an innovative method of stopping the evolution of prostate cancer. The researchers found elevated levels of the protein interleukin-23 (IL-23) in the blood and in the tumours of most patients resistant to current immunotherapy. "We noticed", Prof. Alimonti explains, "that the release of IL-23 in the tumour is caused by a particular type of immune cell (called myeloid cells), which make it treatment resistant - like a "dark force" - by allowing the survival and proliferation of the prostate cancer cells." The contribution will enable a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to be conducted in Ticino in which patients will be treated with an antibody that blocks IL23 in combination with a standard hormone therapy.

"We are pleased to have been able to bring to Ticino a new clinical trial for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer, which still remains one of the main causes of death in humans. In addition, our commitment to the fight against prostate cancer will be further strengthened with the arrival of Prof. Silke Gillessen Sommer, an internationally renowned expert in the field, who in May was appointed Chief medical officer at the EOC, Medical and scientific Director at the Istituto Oncologico della Svizzera Italiana (IOSI) and Full professor of oncology at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences," adds Prof. Alimonti. For details on the study and publication in Nature:

As for the PCF Young Investigator Award, Dr. Arianna Calcinotto, group leader at the IOR, received the prize for her study entitled The role of the microbiota in driving castration-resistant prostate cancer, which investigates the impact that sets of intestinal microorganisms (microbiota) can have on the progression of CPRC (castration-resistant prostate cancer), and which will provide insights into how the microbiota can be manipulated to improve outcomes in men with prostate cancer.


About the PCF Challenge Awards 2019:

About the PCF Young Investigator Award 2019: