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Three-year, $10M Project Created to Research Therapy Resistance in Prostate Cancer

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A second Dream Team project has been created for translational research into prostate cancer with $10 million in funding over three years.

The project was announced today by Stand Up to Cancer, its scientific partner the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and is called "Targeting Adaptive Pathways in Metastatic Treatment-Resistant Prostate Cancer."

Eric Small, a professor of medicine and urology and chief of the division of hematology and oncology at the University of California, San Francisco, and Owen Witte, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles will direct the project.

The project seeks to identify the causes of treatment-resistance in order to tailor therapies for individual patients. The work being carried out will build on earlier research by Phil Febbo at UCSF who developed a genetic signature in prostate cancer patients that was used to direct therapy, Small said.

He and his collaborators will conduct research based on the premise that drug resistance results when cancer cells use common cellular responses, called adaptive pathways, to evade current therapies. By identifying these pathways and inhibiting them, the researchers posit that therapy resistance can be overcome, improving the survival and quality of life for patients.

The researchers plan to systematically subject patient biopsies and blood samples to a comprehensive molecular assessment and pathway-based analysis to evaluate the activity level of known and new pathways. Once the pathways for treatment-resistant prostate cancer are identified, the researchers will create co-targeting approaches validated in vivo using robust preclinical assessments.

They will then test novel therapeutic combinations that co-target adaptive pathways associated with resistance by implementing molecularly guided clinical trials. Data from the work will be centralized into MedBook, a social network for medical science being created by Ted Goldstein, a former vice president at Apple. The information will be updated regularly with new data.

The project is expected to start later this fall with the first clinical trials scheduled to open in 2013.

Six universities make up the Dream Team — UCSF, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Davis; Oregon Health and Science University; and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The team will be organized around five working groups integrating expertise from the six universities, and a sixth knowledge-exchange working group will coordinate and "harmonize" efforts by the Dream Team.

The first prostate cancer Dream Team was announced in April with research directed at therapeutic interventions for advanced cancer with an emphasis on metastatic disease.

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