An international team of investigators from centers in the United States and the United Kingdom, including Weill Cornell Medical College, have been awarded a grant for $10 million over a three-year period to study the molecular underpinnings of metastatic prostate cancer while creating a comprehensive testing system to optimize personalized treatments. The award was announced Sunday, April 1, during a press conference at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2012 Annual Meeting, held in Chicago from March 31 through April 4, 2012.
The grant, given by Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), along with the AACR, SU2C's scientific partner, will support basic research to both better understand and identify the mutations that drive the development of advanced prostate cancer - specifically, castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) - and the establishment of a clinical trial and testing infrastructure aimed at creating an enhanced personalized medicine approach to treating the disease. Specialists will be able to analyze individual patient tumors, and conduct clinical trials testing various drugs and drug combinations against metastatic prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is considered castration-resistant when tumor growth continues, despite the use of hormonal therapies that lower cell growth-promoting androgen (testosterone) levels.
"Understanding the mutational landscape of individual tumors will allow us to better manage metastatic prostate cancers like castration-resistant prostate cancer," explains Dr. Mark A. Rubin, the project's principal investigator at Weill Cornell Medical College. The overarching goal of the grant is to eventually "position CRPC as a manageable and treatable disease with personalized medicine."
"It's a very exciting time because of the many recently developed treatments for advanced prostate cancer," says Dr. Rubin, the Homer T. Hirst Professor of Oncology in Pathology and vice chair for experimental pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "However, we recognize that none of these treatments are cures. For many of these patients, therapies will eventually stop working, and the focus of new research needs to be on the reasons treatments fail, and in developing new and improved therapies that are specific for each patient's cancer. This grant will enable us to set up a system by which we can analyze tumor biology and rationally plan treatment strategies for patients."
The grant, titled the SU2C-PCF Prostate Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant, supports the work of a prostate cancer "dream team." Led by Arul Chinnaiyan at the University of Michigan and Charles Sawyers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the team includes Weill Cornell Medical College, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.