Movember at the Institute of Oncology Research


Institutional Communication Service

2 December 2019

The month dedicated to “Movember” has just come to an end. The yearly initiative promoted by the non-profit “Movember” Foundation has the aim of raising awareness of the problems affecting the health of men and joins the fight to offer vital resources and greater attention to the hidden male health crisis. As in previous years Movember lands in the Swiss Italian-speaking region and teams up with the internationally renowned Institute of Oncology Research (IO), affiliated with USI, for an awareness campaign on prostate cancer research.

Prostate cancer is in fact the second most common cancer in men worldwide and the number of cases is expected to double to 1.7 million by 2030. The commitment of the Movember Foundation over the years has helped to fund more than 1200 research projects and raised more than 557 million francs. Among the projects supported is the Functional Cancer Genomics group, headed by Prof. Jean-Philippe Theurillat of the IOR in Bellinzona, which aims to develop new drugs for the most aggressive form of prostate cancer, castrate-resistant prostate cancer, which currently does not respond to conventional therapies. The aim of the group at the IOR is generally to develop new, more effective solutions based on an in-depth understanding of the molecular mechanisms that make cancers grow.

The growth of prostate cancer depends on the male hormones, an important element to consider for the treatment of this type of cancer. "In recent years, new drugs have been successfully developed to further inhibit the effect of male hormones. In addition, another treatment has been introduced which, with a complementary effect to the first, leads to effective results: "We are developing in the laboratory new therapies targeting proteins that play an important role in the growth of prostate cancer," continues Theurillat.

Raising awareness of this type of disease is very important today. The subject is often considered "taboo" for many men. Ticino, together with the Institute of Oncology Research, has distinguished itself for its great contribution in this field. Professor Theurillat began his research on prostate cancer in the United States in 2011, when with his research group he discovered a new type of cancer characterised by different genetic alterations (in the gene SPOP and CHD1). Since 2014, he has been running his own laboratory at IOR Bellinzona, which has distinguished itself for its research. In recent years it has raised over 5 million francs in research funds. With the support of the Movember Foundation, for example, they have conducted research that has led to the identification of new drugs that are also suitable for use in an advanced stage of the disease; recently, the laboratory has won a national competition for the fortieth anniversary of the San Salvatore Foundation.