Oct 18, 2012

A prostate cancer Dream Team—new hope for men with advanced prostate cancer

 StandUp To Cancer (SU2C) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation have combined resources to fund a Dream Team of Oncologists/Scientists to study personalized treatment for advanced prostate cancer. The three-year project will receive up to 10 million dollars from the sponsoring organizations.

Six doctor/scientists were chosen to work together to identify resistance pathways in advanced prostate cancer and find better treatments. Four campuses of the University of California (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and Davis), the University of British Columbia, and the Oregon Health and Science University are involved. This is exciting to me (Larry) as I enter my 10th year with with prostate cancer.

Dr. Tomasz Beer, Deputy Director of the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU and my oncologist, co-author, and friend, is one of six top scientists picked for the project. Dr. Eric J Small and Dr. Owen N. Witte have been chosen to co-lead the team. The full title of the project is: Targeting Adaptive Pathways in Metastatic Treatment Resistant Prostate Cancer (quite a mouthful). It will concentrate on men who have no reliable treatment options. Current standard treatments to lower testosterone levels often don’t work or stop working in men with advanced prostate cancer.
In the U.S. a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer every 2 minutes and someone dies from prostate cancer every 18 minutes.

According to the Knight Cancer Institute:
Treatment of patients diagnosed with hormone-dependent prostate cancer includes chemical or surgical castration, using drugs or surgery to reduce androgen hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. However, as with most hormone-dependent tumors, prostate cancer becomes resistant to this therapy. These resistant tumors are referred to as treatment-resistant prostate cancer or TRPC.

This new Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team will explore the idea that resistance is a result of the prostate cancer cells using common cellular responses, called adaptive pathways, to escape current therapies. The team believes that by identifying these pathways and inhibiting them, they will be able to overcome treatment resistance and profoundly improve survival and quality of life for these patients.

To test their idea, Small, Witte, Beer and their colleagues will systematically subject patient biopsies (fixed, frozen and fresh tissue) and blood samples to a comprehensive molecular assessment and pathway-based analysis to determine the activity level of known and novel pathways. Once the pathways activated in TRPC tumors are identified, the Dream Team will devise co-targeting approaches in the laboratory. After validation they will test novel therapeutic combinations that co-target adaptive pathways associated with resistance. By combining established therapies with new treatments that co-target adaptive pathways, the Dream Team hopes to dramatically improve outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer.

The long-term goal of the project is to improve outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer (including me and possibly you). This would include increased length of life, reduced side effects, and a better quality of life. Clinical trials are scheduled to begin in 2013.

To put a smile on your face see Larry's latest cartoon.
To learn more about clinical trials, take a look at our book.

(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker

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