The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have launched the Metastatic Prostate Cancer (MPC) Project, designed to encourage men with metastatic prostate cancer in the U.S. and Canada to share their data with researchers studying the disease.
As of yesterday, when MPC was announced, 220 men from Canada or any of 40 U.S. states had enrolled in the Project, the institutes said.
MPC will be conducted at the Broad in collaboration with Dana-Farber, patients, and nonprofit advocacy groups. Participating patients agree to engage with the research community, with the goal of accelerating the study of the disease. MPC investigators, in return, have committed to connecting with people with metastatic prostate cancer and their care providers to expand the patient population and its diversity.
“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 Eliezer Van Allen, M.D., a Broad associate member and a genitourinary oncologist at Dana-Farber. “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.”
Patients interested in participating agree to fill out a survey covering demographic information and medical history. They are mailed a kit for collecting a saliva sample, so that researchers can compare the patient’s genetic information with tumor DNA. Some participants also receive a blood-biopsy kit.
The Broad and Dana-Farber say data submitted by patients is de-identified in order to protect their privacy. The data will be made available via the Web to researchers worldwide. New batches of data will be released regularly, the institutes said.
MPC builds upon the institutes’ experiences in developing the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, in which more than 4,300 patients to date have shared tumor samples with researchers to advance the study of the disease; and the Angiosarcoma Project, a data-sharing initiative that has attracted nearly 300 participants. More information on all three “Count Me In” programs is available here.
“We can point men with advanced prostate cancer to the exciting work that's being done with patients in these other programs to underscore the power of this partnership,” Dr. Van Allen added. “We come into [MPC] with a track record.”