University of Michigan Cancer Programs Receive $9.2M Grant for Prostate Cancer Research

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Two Michigan cancer programs are joining forces to find new solutions for prostate cancer. The University of Michigan (U-M) Rogel Cancer Center and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University have received a $9.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The grant is through the NCI’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), which funds collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research.

The Michigan Prostate SPORE will focus on critical questions regarding how prostate cancer develops, with projects designed to address major barriers and challenges in diagnosis, treatment, and metastasis.

The Rogel Cancer Center first received a prostate cancer SPORE grant in 1995, and it has been continuously funded since then, resulting in several landmark discoveries that have identified key genetic drivers of prostate cancer. U-M and Karmanos are the only two NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in Michigan. “With the Michigan Prostate SPORE, we hope to improve outcomes for men with prostate cancer by making scientific advances that address critical questions in how the disease develops and how best to treat it. The partnership between the Rogel Cancer Center and Karmanos will help us find innovative solutions that ultimately benefit patients,” says Co-Principal Investigator Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, Director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and S.P. Hicks Professor of Pathology at Michigan Medicine.

“We are honored to collaborate with U-M on this prestigious NCI SPORE grant to continue the Michigan Prostate SPORE,” says Co-Principal Investigator Elisabeth Heath, MD, FACP, the Patricia C. and E. Jan Hartmann endowed chair for Prostate Cancer Research at Karmanos Cancer Institute, and Professor of Oncology and Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

“We are fortunate that our research at Karmanos highlights our diverse population, which will complement the work underway at U-M. Collectively, we have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of metastatic prostate cancer in many populations and discover additional ways to treat this disease, as well as prevent it.”

Research Projects

The Michigan Prostate SPORE is centered on three projects designed to translate laboratory discoveries into clinical advances. They include:

Understanding a new subset of metastatic prostate cancer: This project will focus on metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer with CDK12 mutation, seeking to uncover new treatment targets or biomarkers and to perform clinical trials using immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Using a urine test for early detection and high-risk tumors: This project will investigate a new urine-based test developed at U-M that looks at a combination of multiple prostate markers, genes, and other risk variants.

Overcoming treatment resistance: This project will investigate a new way of targeting the androgen receptor’s messenger RNA in the hope that disrupting the signaling upstream could block any androgen receptor signaling in the tumor, essentially depleting all androgen receptor signaling.

“Each of these projects will help us better understand the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer progression and will also have a major clinical impact on the diagnosis and treatment of patients as we translate laboratory discoveries to the bedside,” says co-principal investigator Ganesh Palapattu, MD, Chair and George F. and Sandy G. Valassis Professor of Urology at Michigan Medicine.