UW News

July 25, 2002

$10.5 million to prostate cancer consortium

The National Cancer Institute will provide $10.5 million in funding to the UW, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) and the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) over five years to study the progression and treatment of prostate cancer. The research will include intensive study of genes and proteins that make prostate cancer cells virulent and stimulate their deadly march into human bone.

The project grant is called Mechanisms and Markers of Prostate Cancer Metastases.

“UW brings a strong track record to the table with its past research – and we will also draw upon the strength of the partnership with our collaborators. The program project grant is further evidence that Seattle has become a major center of prostate research,” said Dr. Paul Lange, principal investigator. Lange is professor and chair of the UW Department of Urology and himself a prostate cancer survivor.

Prostate cancer is the No. 1 cancer to strike men, and the second leading cause of cancer death (after lung cancer) among men. One out of every six men can expect to develop prostate cancer.

The grant includes $5.5 million for the UW, $2.7 million for the FHCRC and $2.3 million for the ISB.

“For a decade, the UW and the FHCRC have been building a world-class prostate treatment and research center. In this collaboration with Lee Hood and his colleagues at the Institute for Systems Biology, we envision even greater capacity to make substantial advances,” Lange said.

Researchers will examine how to identify the genes responsible for prostate cancer. Researchers say they can use new tools from bone and cancer biology, cancer endocrinology, biochemistry and genomics to study the mechanisms of prostate cancer growth.

The reason this question is important is that while most prostate cancer can be treated with local therapy, the cancer sometimes spreads and foils the treatment plan. Researchers would like to know how the cancer is accomplishing this. At the UW, previous studies have determined that many men, even those who are subsequently cured with local therapy, appear to have prostate cancer cells in their blood and bone marrow very early in the disease process. It is not known why some of these cells turn into deadly metastatic cancer, while others remain dormant or die.

In 2003, the UW will move its urology and prostate treatment center into new quarters at the UW Medical Center Surgery Pavilion, now under construction. The UW and the FHCRC recently launched a joint fund-raising campaign to establish the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, which will include researchers from both institutions. Through the new institute, the UW and FHCRC will work together to accelerate the search for a cure for this disease.

For more information on the projects that will be supported by the NCI grant, see http://www.washington.edu/newsroom/news/2002archive/07-02archive/k071702.html