With cancer recognized as the second most common cause of death in the US, closely trailing heart disease, and responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths annually, it's no surprise that cancer research remains prominent on university and research campuses nationwide. Prostate cancer, a cancer that forms in the tissues of the prostate and adds up to nearly 240,000 new cases each year, is especially impacting on the 40+ male age group and is the second most common cancer-related cause of death in men.
Thankfully, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles are continuing to receive outstanding funding from the National Cancer Institute to:
-Conduct translational research to investigate what makes prostate cancer spread and become castration resistant (when it does not respond to hormone therapy).
-Target cancer stem cells and signaling pathways.
-Evaluate the effects and mechanisms of dietary change in preventing prostate cancer.
-Provide organizational infrastructure and novel technologies to support SPORE objectives.
-Develop new research areas and support the careers of new researchers.
Responsible for this $11.6 million grant is UCLA's standing as an NCI recognized Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for prostate cancer, jointly at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the department of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine. What is even more impressive, though, is UCLA's distinction as a three consecutive cycle recipient and the fact that the UCLA prostate SPORE is the only one in California and one of nine throughout the United States. UCLA previously received a SPORE recognition and grant of $13.9 million in 2001 for the lung cancer program at the JCCC, further cementing UCLA's research programs as some of the highest achieving in the academic world.
In the words of Dr. James Economou, UCLA vice chancellor for research and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics; molecular and medical pharmacology; and surgical oncology:
"This renewal of the UCLA prostate SPORE is indicative of the world-class research we have on this campus"
This renewal is the third five-year cycle of funding for UCLA scientists, which will continue to improve prevention, detection and treatment for men with prostate cancer or at risk for this disease. According to UCLA Health, these goals for UCLA SPORE in Prostate Cancer will be accomplished through multiple and diverse research projects, both in basic science and population-based research.
According to the NCI, SPORE grants are designed to promote collaboration among the best scientific minds. The grants bring together researchers who might not otherwise have a chance to work together.
This SPORE grant will fund primarily four separate projects at this University of California research campus:
1. Translating N-cadherin (a protein expressed widely across prostate cancers)- targeted antibody therapy into the clinic
2. Advancing the management of castration-resistant prostate cancer by blocking scientific signaling pathways
3. Focusing on prostate cancer stem cells, which are thought to be resistant to castration and most conventional therapies
4. Focusing on the molecular effects of diet and how diet can help prevent and manage early prostate cancer
This prostate cancer research program is under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Robert Reiter (above), Bing Professor of Urologic Research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Reiter is specifically heading research on the first objective of the SPORE grant, translating N-cadherin, alongside Dr. Anna Wu, Director of the JCCC Cancer Molecular Imaging Program Area.
Recognized as one of the nation's largest comprehensive cancer centers, UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center boasts over 240 researchers and clinicians who are actively immersed in the research, prevention, detection, control, treatment, and education of disease. One of the JCCC's most recent rankings, per July 2013, is that of being among the top 12 cancer centers in the US, a ranking not new to this UCLA affiliate as this is the 14th consecutive year receiving this standing.
“This renewal will robustly continue the outstanding programs we have developed over the last two cycles of the prostate cancer SPORE, and give us the resources to bring investigators together for new innovative and multidisciplinary projects with the goal of improving the way we diagnose and treat prostate cancer,” remarks Dr. Mark S. Litwin, professor and chair of the department of urology.
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