Crowdsourcing to fund prostate cancer trials … can this be made to work?

The motivated son of a man with late-stage prostate cancer has put together a crowdsourcing campaign to raise at least $1 million to fund what appears to be a Phase II clinical trial of the use of disulfiram in the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer.

The “Give 1 For Dad” campaign is designed to allow motivated patients and others to donate, as well as share and read stories about the people for whom donations are made, and find information on how to get involved with the campaign where they live.

Preliminary information, published by McConnell et al. in Cancer last year, has suggested that it may be possible to use disulfiram (a copper chelating agent) to lower levels of copper in prostate cancer cells, potentially leading to cancer cell death without inducing any other serious side effects on normal cells. However, this is a very unconventional approach to treatment for late-stage prostate cancer. Funding for trials like this is hard to come by from conventional sources today. So that’s a primary reason behind the crowdsourcing approach.

There are a couple of important things readers need to understand about this study and its status:

  • The clinical trial is still being designed, so there is no information about it yet on, and there is no guarantee that the trial will, in fact, meet necessary guidelines for approval of the trial at the sponsoring institution (Duke Medical Center in Durham, NC).
  • You can’t enroll in the trial yet, even if you might be a good candidate, and it may be quite a while before that is possible.

On the other hand, according to the crowdsourcing web site, all funds raised will be donated directly to this specific study, and all donations will be tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Crowdsourcing has become a recognized way to raise research funds for all sorts of uses in scientific and medical research. Doing this to fund a clinical trial in prostate cancer will come with some challenges, but maybe the “Give1 for Dad” coordinators can pull this off and set an example for others to follow. We are sadly in need of increased funds for medical research in general and prostate cancer research in particular. Anything’s worth trying at least once!

7 Responses

  1. Dr. George is excited about this. Let’s fund it and hope it’s successful.

  2. I passed this information around to a number of folks last week — some of whom were offended by the “Give 1 for Dad” website in the way it tries to monetize the value of “Dad”. I heard earlier today that changes are being made. The PI is Dr. Dan George at Duke who is treating a good buddy.

  3. Thanks for the coverage! #Give1ForDad

  4. How do I make a donation to this effort?

  5. Tom:

    As far as I can tell you just go to the web site and click on the “Donate” link there.

  6. From a wider viewpoint, we can also ask our members of Congress to increase funding for the NIH, including the NCI. As many of us likely know, funding has not kept pace even with inflation, resulting in an effective downturn in resources for research carried out directly and sponsored by the federal government. The sequester took an especially nasty bite out of resources. The various editions of the annual cancer research progress report (, sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research) do a nice job of describing both progress (funded by all sources) and funding of federal cancer research.

    Some senators and representatives are solidly on board; others are skeptical that the government does anything right, believe that it is more important to hold down federal spending, or both, and therefore do not support a steady level, inflation considered, or boost in funding for federal cancer research.

    I am convinced it is especially important for us to try to persuade those who are reluctant that federally funded research plays a key role in the cancer research spectrum, is a natural bipartisan issue, and has produced very important results, including some of the newly approved drugs for prostate cancer.

  7. My condolences go out to Sam Poley who started this initiative in honor of his father. His dad passed away on July 2nd. Sam wrote on Facebook that his father had a variety of ailments but ADT weakened his ability to fight. Please consider donating to this cause.



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