Research and Training Grants in Prostate Cancer

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Total Prostate Cancer Grants in Effect as of March 1, 2020

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Total Prostate Cancer Grant Funding in Effect as of March 1, 2020

Spotlight on Prostate Cancer Grantees

Here are some examples of the research areas and scientists the American Cancer Society funds. These investigators are working to find the answers that will save more lives of men with prostate cancer and improve the quality of life for them and their families.

How Full Health Coverage Through the ACA Affects Men with Prostate Cancer

Grantee: Mark S. Litwin, MD, MPH
Institution: University of California in Los Angeles
Term: 7/1/2015 to 6/30/2019

The Challenge: Men with prostate cancer don't have the same access to quality, comprehensive care because of differences in insurance coverage and other socioeconomic issues.In 2001, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), California lawmakers created the IMPACT program. IMPACT offers free disease-specific treatment to men with prostate cancer who have a low income or who are under- or uninsured. With the implementation of the ACA, California expanded full-scope Medicaid benefits to a portion of under- and uninsured Californians.

The Research: The aim of this study is to find out how the transition from disease-specific care to comprehensive health insurance affects the participants’ care and outcomes.The study uses data from the UCLA Men’s Health Study, a 14-year study of men similar to those enrolled in IMPACT. The researchers are interviewing men who have obtained comprehensive health insurance as a result of the ACA.

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: This study will help inform ongoing discussions and national health policy about reducing barriers and optimizing health care access and use in vulnerable populations.

Understanding Lethal Emigrant Cells—Fugitive Prostate Tumor Cells Intent on Spreading Cancer

Grantee: Sarah R. Amend, PhD
Institution: Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland
Term: 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019

The Challenge: It's estimated that more than 29,000 men will die from metastatic prostate cancer in the United States in 2018.

When a cancer cell leaves the main tumor in the prostate and invades another organ, cancer spreads. The process is metastasis, and the new tumors are metastases. New tumors that are close to the first one are called regional, or local, metastases. Ones far from the first tumor, like in the bone, are distant metastases. The farther away a new tumor is from the original one, the harder it is to treat.

The Research: Amend calls the cells that leave the primary tumor lethal emigrant cells. With the support of an American Cancer Society grant, Amend and her research team are studying the functional characteristics (phenotype) of the lethal emigrant cells. They’re also trying to learn what conditions make them occur.

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: The findings of this work will lay the groundwork for a better understanding of this critical early step in cancer metastasis in many types of tumors.

A New Genetic Tool May Reduce Deaths from Prostate in African American Men

Grantee: Kosj Yamoah, MD, PhD
Institution: H. Lee Moffitt  Cancer Care & Research Institute in Tampa, Fla.
Term: 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2022

The Challenge: African American men in the United States are 1.7 times more likely to get prostate cancer and 2.3 times more likely to die from it compared to European American men. Doctors use a tool to help predict how aggressive a man’s prostate cancer may be. With this information, the doctor can better guide decisions about treatment. The problem is, it’s not clear whether these tools apply to African American men. 

The Research: Previous researchers have established that ethnic differences in genes affect prostate tumors. These genetic differences are partly responsible for the increased risk an African American man has for getting prostate cancer and dying from it. Yamoah and his fellow researchers believe that genetic information in a prostate tumor may give hints about where the tumors are located, making them easier to find and biopsy. The team also thinks tumor genes may suggest how aggressively the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

With the support of a grant from the American Cancer Society, Yamoah is developing a new predictive tool, using genetic information, to help guide treatment for prostate cancer. Relying on genetic data means the tool should be valuable to African American men as well as European American men. 

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: Yamoah’s findings may improve doctors’ ability to find and diagnose prostate tumors and recommend more personalized treatment choices for aggressive tumors. His work to better use genetic differences between ethnic groups may help reduce the large differences (disparities) for getting and dying from prostate cancer between ethnic groups. To learn more, listen to this podcast wIth Yamaoh.

A New Test May Predict How Well New Treatments Will Work Against Prostate Cancer

Grantee: Raymond Blind, PhD
Institution: Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Term: 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2021

The Challenge: For reasons no one understands, drugs to kill cancer don’t work for many patients. The problem is, no one knows how well the treatment will work until the patient’s received it. That means, a patient could have all the side effects of a drug without any of its power to kill cancer.

The Research:  Blind and his research team developed a new type of technology that tests a patient’s tumor to see how well it will respond to anti-cancer drugs. Their aim is to help people already diagnosed with prostate, liver, or brain cancer.

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: Blind's goal is to apply his findings to develop new classes of medicines to fight these cancers. His team’s technology could also help explain how cancers develop, which could make clinical trials for new drugs more likely to succeed.

Searching for Ways 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.  

From Our Researchers

The American Cancer Society employs a staff of full-time researchers who relentlessly pursue the answers that help us understand how to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, including prostate cancer.