Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Department of Surgery (RMH)

Prostate Cancer

Head: Associate Professor Christopher Hovens

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS
Successful completion of a Phase I clinical trial with the experimental compound Vel015, in castrate resistant prostate cancer patients performed at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In conjunction with Cancer Trials Australia and the Department of Urology, Royal Melbourne Hospital. This trial has emanated from discoveries made in the prostate cancer research laboratories of the effectiveness of the experimental compound Vel015 in preclinical models of prostate cancer, which has led to the formation of the drug discovery and development company, Velacor Therapeutics Pty Ltd, to manage and fund the clinical development of this compound. Encouraging results from the use of circulating endothelial cells as biomarkers for prostate cancer prognostication and treatment outcomes prediction in both preclinical and clinical data sets. In addition, the circulating endothelial cells have also shown promise in preclinical models of renal cell carcinoma as a potential biomarkers for disease stratification and treatment response.

GROUP OVERVIEW
Our current research is focused on the development of new assays to aid in the prognostication and predict outcomes for prostate cancer. In addition, we are also developing new protein therapeutics targeting the hormone signaling axis of prostate cancer, to aid in the treatment of locally advanced and metastatic disease. We also have a very strong focus on clinical translational research with a large prostate cancer tumour bank collected from robotic assisted radical prostatectomy cases with matching serum and urine samples. We have also developed in conjunction with BioGrid a prostate cancer database module which will fully integrate clinical informatics with tumour bank samples to provide a unique resource for ongoing clinical research in prostate cancer disease outcomes. Our group has also been successful in establishing the first Australian Prostate Cancer Research Center based at the Epworth Hospital, which will be fully affiliated with the University of Melbourne, with funding from the Commonwealth Government of $7.5 million over the next five years.

PUBLICATION HIGHLIGHTS
Georgiou HD, Namdarian B, Corcoran NM, Costello AJ, Hovens CM. Circulating endothelial cells as biomarkers of prostate cancer. Nat Clin Pract Urol. 2008 Aug;5(8):445-54. Bruyere F, Corcoran NM, Berdjis N, Namdarian B, Pedersen J, Ockrim J, Voelzke BB, Costello AJ, Hovens CM. Aurora kinase B is an independent protective factor in superficial bladder tumours with a dysfunctional G1 checkpoint. BJU Int. 2008 Jul;102(2):247-52.

GRANTS
Federal Research Centre Establishment Grant. Australian Prostate Cancer Research Center at the Epworth Hospital. 2008-2013 AJ Costello, CM Hovens $7.5m
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Project Grant. AJ Costello, CM Hovens. 2008-2009. Circulating cells as biomarkers for prostate cancer. $460,000
NHMRC development grant. CM Hovens, AH Kaye. VEl015, a novel therapeutic for brain tumours, 2007-2008 $330,000.

COLLABORATIONS
Non-Industry:
Department of Urology, Royal Melbourne Hospital,
Victorian Prostate Cancer Research Consortium,
BioGrid,
St. Vincent’s Hospital,
Monash Medical Center,
The Prostate Center, Vancouver General Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital,
Australian Prostate Cancer Research Center at QUT.
Industry:
Velacor Therapeutics Pty Ltd.
JSW Research Graz Austria,
Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick,
Cerebricon UK,
Capsant Neurotechnologies UK.

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
Christopher Hovens
Session Chair: Ninth National Prostate Cancer Symposium, Melbourne.
Invited Speaker: Australia-Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Alliance meeting, Gold Coast, Australia
Participant: Prostate Cancer Foundation Scientific meeting, Lake Tahoe, USA.

TEACHING & TRAINING
PhD student completion, Michael Wong, 2008
Ongoing Students
Matthew Fankhauser PhD student
Ben Namdarian PhD student
Harry Georgiou AMS student
Ben Dowdle AMS student

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
Chief Scientific Officer, Velacor Therapeutics Pty Ltd

CONTACT DETAILS
Associate Professor Christopher Hovens
Department of Surgery (RMH/WH)
The University of Melbourne
5th Floor Clinical Sciences Bldg
Victoria 3050 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 9342 7703/4
Email: chovens@unimelb.edu.au

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