The Prostate Cancer Foundation is providing $1M of funding to the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia (UEA) to study the protective effects of broccoli consumption against prostate cancer.
It builds upon several years of research led by Professor Richard Mithen on the biological activity of a naturally occurring compound called sulforaphane that is obtained in the diet from eating broccoli.
Professor Mithen and Dr Maria Traka will lead the research at IFR, and will collaborate with leading cancer genetics expert Professor Colin Cooper of UEA, and Mr Robert Mills and Professor Richard Ball at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Professor Cooper, supported by the Big C charity, has recently joined UEA’s Norwich Medical School and School of Biological Sciences.
This is one of nine ‘Challenge’ Awards made by PCF in an effort to accelerate scientific discovery and new treatments for prostate cancer patients. It was selected after rigorous peer review of 96 applications from 10 countries. The unique capacity of the Norwich Research Park to integrate high quality plant science research, food research and clinical studies on a single campus was an important factor in the granting of this prestigious award.
“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK – with more than 35,000 cases diagnosed each year. Around 11,000 men in the UK die from the disease,” said Professor Cooper.
“It has long been thought that what we eat can play a part in the likelihood of developing prostate cancer but the responsible dietary components have not yet been identified.”
Men who eat diets rich in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, have been shown to have a lower chance of developing prostate cancer, or of progressing from localised cancer to more aggressive forms of the disease. Studies using model systems have suggested that sulforaphane, which is found at high levels in broccoli, may be behind the protective effects.
The new study will follow changes in the metabolism and gene expression in prostate tissue of men identified as being at risk of developing prostate cancer, and see how these changes are affected by eating a diet enriched with sulforaphane.
“The results of this study could help men by providing evidence that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables or sulforaphane can reduce the likelihood of metastatic cancer, leading to the provision of higher quality dietary advice. It will also result in a greater understanding of metabolic and gene expression changes in prostate tissue that may lead to better drug development,” said Professor Richard Mithen.
“A change in diet could be a very simple way of decreasing the risk of developing prostate cancer, helping future generations to avoid the disease altogether,” said Professor Cooper.
“The receipt of this ‘Challenge’ award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation is very exciting news for Norwich Research Park and testament to the innovative research carried out by scientists in our Partner institutions,” said Matthew Jones, Chief Operating Officer, Norwich Research Park.
“The nine funding awards have only been given to those working in cross-disciplinary areas of research with near-term patient benefits. This is further evidence of the value seen by an increasing number of organisations in the unique combination of expertise on Norwich Research Park, ranging from fundamental research through to clinical trials and we are delighted by this endorsement.”
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Notes to Editors:
Research on sulforaphane at the Norwich Research Park led by Professor Richard Mithen has been undertaken at both the John Innes Centre and Institute of Food Research, which are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The research led to the launch of Beneforte broccoli in 2011. This new variety of broccoli will be used in the research programme funded by PCF.
About The Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s largest philanthropic source of support for accelerating the most promising research for better treatments and cures for prostate cancer. Founded in 1993, PCF has raised nearly $479 million and provided funding to more than 1,600 research programs at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. PCF advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more efficient investment of governmental research funds for transformational cancer research. Its efforts have helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer. More information about the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.
About the Institute of Food Research
- The mission of the Institute of Food Research, www.ifr.ac.uk, is to undertake international quality scientific research relevant to food and human health and to work in partnership with others to provide underpinning science for consumers, policy makers, the food industry and academia. It is a company limited by guarantee, with charitable status.
- IFR is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. IFR received a total of £14.4M investment from BBSRC in 2011-12.
- The institutes deliver innovative, world class bioscience research and training, leading to wealth and job creation, generating high returns for the UK economy. They have strong links with business, industry and the wider community, and support policy development
- The institutes’ research underpins key sectors of the UK economy such as agriculture, bioenergy, biotechnology, food and drink and pharmaceuticals. In addition, the institutes maintain unique research facilities of national importance.
About the University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia (UEA) is ranked in the top one per cent of universities in the world and is consistently in the top ten for student satisfaction. It is a leading member of the Norwich Research Park, one of Europe’s biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science. www.uea.ac.uk.
UEA’s Norwich Medical School has a reputation for exciting and innovative approaches to education, supported by a strong and rapidly developing research programme. Around 90 per cent of UEA research was rated internationally excellent in the last Research Assessment Exercise, with over 50 per cent ‘world leading’. www.uea.ac.uk/med
About the Norwich Research Park
The Norwich Research Park is a partnership between the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, four independent world-renowned research institutes namely the John Innes Centre, Institute of Food Research and The Genome Analysis Centre (all strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)) and The Sainsbury Laboratory linked to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. BBSRC is itself a partner as is the John Innes Foundation.
The vision of the Norwich Research Park partners and local government stakeholders is to develop a thriving science and innovation business park over the next decade by supporting spin-out and start up companies and through attracting inward investment from large corporate organisations involved in science and technology. The Norwich Research Park is home to around 30 science and IT based businesses.
With over 11,000 people including 2,700 scientists, the Norwich Research Park has one of Europe’s largest single-site concentrations of research in Health, Food and Environmental Sciences.
In 2011, the Government awarded BBSRC £26M to invest in Norwich Research Park to deliver innovation from the research base and generate economic growth and job creation. The investment will help to create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience.