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UCLA Gets $11.6M in NCI Funding for Prostate Cancer Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of California Los Angeles said today that its Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and David Geffen School of Medicine have received $11.6 million from the National Cancer Institute to fuel a range of molecular research projects focused on prostate cancer.

The award continues providing funding for the center and the medical school to serve as a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for five years. It is the third grant they have received to fund this SPORE.

The SPORE grants are aimed at fueling collaborations and interdisciplinary research projects focused on one area of cancer.

Over the first 10 years that the UCLA SPORE has received funding, investigators have been involved in studying the PTEN tumor suppressor gene, developing the drug enzalutamide, identifying prostate stem cells, and discovering and developing antibodies against the prostate stem-cell antigen gene.

The renewal funding will be used to support translational research into how prostate cancer spreads and how it becomes resistant to hormone therapy, efforts to target stem cells and signaling pathways, efforts to evaluate the effects of dietary changes to prevent prostate cancer, and developing new research areas, as well as new researchers.

One project will seek to manage castration-resistant prostate cancer by blocking signaling pathways. The hope is that prostate cancer tumors could be classified based on alterations in certain pathways, with the aim of using that classification to guide treatment.

Another study will key in on the molecular effects of diet and on how diet can be used to prevent and manage early prostate cancer. This project is based on a previous study, which showed that a low-fat diet supplemented with fish oil could slow the growth of prostate cancer.

Yet another project will center on the protein N-cadherin, which the researchers hope to target for treatment of castration-resistant cancers.

Other UCLA SPORE investigators will seek to target a gene called Trop-2, which is present in normal and malignant stem cells and could be a target for developing new prostate cancer treatments.