Rutgers Cancer Institute Physician-Scientist Awarded $954K for Prostate Cancer Research

Department of Defense funding supports work exploring influence of neuroendocrine markers on hormone therapy
December 4, 2017

prostate cancer ribbonNew Brunswick, N.J. – Isaac Yi Kim, MD, PhD, MBA, urologic oncology section chief at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, has been awarded a $954,000 Prostate Cancer Research Program Idea Development Award for Established Investigators (W81XWH-17-1-0359) from the United States Department of Defense Office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. The funding supports Dr. Kim’s research of how neuroendocrine markers impact a common treatment for a type of prostate cancer that doesn’t respond to testosterone-lowering therapies (castration resistant). The work focuses on a hormone therapy known as enzalutamide, which targets a protein (androgen receptor) that prostate cancer cells rely on for growth and survival.

“While enzalutamide is considered a cornerstone of care for men with castration-resistant prostate cancer, clinical benefits are limited to a median time of 18-24 months because the disease eventually becomes resistant to this treatment,” notes Kim, who is also an associate professor of surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Our study aims to understand the link between this resistance and nerve-like cell features (neuroendocrine differentiations) so that we can find an effective treatment option for men who have developed resistance to androgen deprivation therapy and enzalutamide.”

Preliminary study data by Kim revealed castration-resistant prostate cancer tissues have a master switch that induces treatment-resistance via neuroendocrine differentiation. In this new study using laboratory models and human tissue samples of enzalutamide resistant prostate cancer, Kim will further measure levels of this master switch protein as well therapeutic potential of blocking it.

“This award will further advance our knowledge of how castration-resistant prostate cancer can be better targeted so that we can provide this patient population with new options in managing their disease.  I am grateful to the Department of Defense for its support,” adds Kim.

The award period runs through August 2020.

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