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York scientist wins prestigious international award for prostate cancer research

Posted on 23 September 2011

A York scientist funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research has won a prestigious international award for his groundbreaking research into prostate cancer.

Dr Euan Polson, a member of Prof Norman Maitland’s team at the University of York’s YCR Cancer Research Unit in the Department of Biology, won the prize for the best presentation of prostate cancer research at the World Congress on Urological Research.

The conference, which took place in Innsbruck, Austria, last week, is attended by internationally renowned scientists from across the world who focus on urological research.

It is fantastic to have my work recognised at this level

Dr Euan Polson

Dr Polson is the fourth person from Dr Maitland’s lab to win the highly regarded prize, which is presented by ARTP – the French Organization for Prostate Cancer Research – every year.

The 30-year-old’s presentation included two recent key findings in the research of early prostate cancer development.

For the first time, the scientists in York have shown the presence of a common chromosomal defect involving two genes, TMPRSS2 and ERG, in prostate cancer stem cells - widely regarded as the ‘root’ cause of all prostate cancers in men.

This finding is the strongest indication yet that cancer-related changes exist in these stem cells, which are believed to be responsible for the spread of cancer and its resistance to treatment.

The team has also discovered that although prostate cancer stem cells have two copies of each gene, for TMPRSS2, one copy is ‘silent’, meaning it does not function. This behaviour has been discovered in other cells, but never before in prostate cancer stem cells.

The findings are a significant development in the work of the YCR Cancer Research Unit, which was recently awarded £2.15m to explore the exact molecular properties that allow prostate cancer stem cells to survive, spread and resist treatment.

Dr Polson, who received a cash prize for his work and the opportunity to present his work at the ARTP annual meeting next year, said: “It is fantastic to have my work recognised at this level.  I am really looking forward to presenting these and future discoveries in 2012.”

Yorkshire Cancer Research spends £6m a year on world-class research, treatment and diagnosis projects throughout the region. For more information, please visit

Notes to editors:

  • For further information about the YCR Cancer Research Unit in the Department of Biology at the University of York visit
  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR), the UK’s largest regional medical research charity, funds around £7m of internationally recognised cancer research each year. For more information visit

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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