Collaborative Prostate Cancer Project Earns $7.6 Million Federal Grant
ATLANTA — Teamwork pays. A collaborative group of cancer researchers
has won a $7.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study
the pathways and mechanism for prostate cancer metastasis to bone. Titled
"Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis: Biology and Targeting," the collaboration
consists of three separate but interrelated projects.
The overall project will be led by Leland Chung, PhD, director of Urological
Research in Emory University’s Department of Urology, and will bring
together investigators from Emory’s School of Medicine, Winship Cancer
Institute, Departments of Urology, Pathology, Biostatistics, and School
of Public Health. In addition, researchers from the University of Delaware,
University of Virginia, Stanford University and the Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center will participate.
"The strength of this project is its interactive nature," said Dr. Chung,
who is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar. "We are all
looking at different parts of the metastasis problem, and the laboratory
activity is highly interactive. This project is organized to achieve
synergy among individual scientists who have an established track record
of research collaboration."
Nearly 90 percent of all prostate cancer patients who die from the cancer
experience bone metastasis. "The ultimate goal of this project," said
Dr. Chung, "is to develop novel diagnostic, prognostic and treatment
options based on a better understanding of the mechanics of prostate
cancer and bone metastasis."
The three primary projects are:
- The Biology of Tumor-Stroma Interaction, which will be led by Dr.
Chung. This project will study the biology of the interaction between
metastatic human prostate cancer cells and bone or prostate stroma,
which contributes to localized cancer growth, invasion and distant metastasis.
The purpose is to develop potential molecular or genetic targeting strategies
for treatment of prostate cancer bone metastasis.
- Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans in Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis,
which will be led by Mary Farach-Carson, PhD, from the University of
Delaware, will study the interactions between prostate cancer cells
and the marrow stromal cells that facilitate the progression of metastases
in bone and bone marrow. By better understanding the bone stromal "microenvironment,"
researchers predict a better understanding of how metastasis occurs
within the bone, which will lead to development of novel therapeutic
strategies for disrupting that process.
- Mitochondrial DNA Mutations in Prostate Tumorigenesis and Stromal
and Epithelial Interaction, which will be led by John Petros, PhD, Associate
Professor of Urology at Emory University, will research mitochondrial
DNA mutations in prostate cancer to determine how those mutations protect
cancer cells from their normal cell death and enhance tumor growth and
metastasis and how cancer-associated stromal cells may support the survival
of cancer cells.
In addition, the grant will involve three "core groups," which will
provide biostatistics, animal and tissue cultures, and pathology and
Dr. Chung notes that an important goal of the three collaborative projects
is to discover relevant genes that may "turn on or turn off" during
the making of prostate cancer cells and their subsequent metastasis
to bone. "This collaboration enables us to validate laboratory findings
using animal and tissue culture models with well-documented clinical
specimens," said Dr. Chung. "By embarking on this team approach to the
problem of prostate cancer bone metastasis, we may discover new pathways
that support the metastasis. As a result, new therapies may be generated
in the diagnosis and treatment of men with advanced forms of prostate