Searching for a Way to Put an End to Untreatable Prostate Cancers

Grantee: Wenliang Li, PhD
Institution: University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston
Term: 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2021

The Challenge: Hormone therapy usually works to treat prostate cancer—at first. Over time, though, the cancer cells become able to resist the treatment, allowing the cancer to keep growing and spreading. Certain types of prostate tumors become so resistant to treatment that nothing works to kill them. 

The Research: Li has discovered a series of events that leads to these treatment-resistant prostate cancers. He and his research team are studying exactly what happens inside the cells. They’re using mice to see if blocking specific actions can stop this deadly form of prostate cancer from developing. Li’s team is also testing to see if certain drugs aimed at key steps in this transformation can stop prostate cancer cells from becoming resistant to anti-cancer drugs. They’re using tumor samples from men with prostate cancer to help them learn if activity in the cell helps identify patients who have a greater chance of the tumor spreading.

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: Li’s findings may help doctors better understand how prostate cancer progresses. His team’s work may also help identify with the development of new treatments for prostate cancer.