Prostate Cancer Foundation Adds Four New Scientists to Its 2010 Class of Young Investigators

Wed Jun 2, 2010 5:22pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

With Additional Funding Making These New Grants Possible, PCF Hopes to Soon
Reach a Total of 50 Young Investigators Since 2008


SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(Business Wire)--
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) announced the addition of four Young
Investigators to its Class of 2010. PCF`s Young Investigator awards are designed
to encourage the most innovative minds in cancer research to focus their careers
on prostate cancer. They provide recipients with three years of funding to test
transformational research questions for prostate cancer treatments and patients.
With the addition of these four grants, the 2010 Class of young scientists now
numbers 25 and represents a total $5.4 million investment in the global cancer
research community by PCF. 

Including the 2010 Young Investigators, PCF is now funding 47 research projects
led by young scientists around the world. Each Young Investigator award provides
$225,000 over three years and is matched dollar for dollar or in kind by
recipients` research institutions, making the total award worth $450,000 in
support. By year end, PCF hopes to fund 50 such awards since 2008. 

"The addition of these four Young Investigators brings us closer to our goal of
having 50 PCF Young Investigators pursuing innovative research programs for
prostate cancer," said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, president and CEO of PCF. "We
welcome their fresh ideas and look forward to seeing the contributions these
young scientists will make in our field." 

The four new 2010 PCF Young Investigator Award recipients are: 

The Ressler-Gertz Family Foundation- PCF Young Investigator Award

Julia Hayes, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening is widely used to assist the early
diagnosis of prostate cancer. However, benefits of PSA screening are
controversial. Dr. Hayes proposes to develop a model that assesses the effect of
PSA screening on overall life expectancy and quality of life, and measures PSA
screening cost-effectiveness. To accomplish this, she will use large cohorts of
existing data from both the United States and Europe that have detailed records
of patients who have undergone PSA screening and those who have not. This
research will inform clinical decision making and guide future clinical research
and health policy. 

PCF Young Investigator Award (Anonymous Donor)

Andrew Hsieh, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Decades of research have revealed the cascade of signaling events that are in
part responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer. These molecular
pathways are mediated through complex array of proteins called signaling
molecules. The PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway is one such signaling pathway that has been
identified as being critical to prostate cancer progression. However, currently
available medicines that can block this pathway, such as Rapamyacin, have shown
disappointing results in the treatment of prostate cancer. Dr. Hsieh has
discovered that the current medicines targeting the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway do not
effectively impede the activity of an integral member of the pathway mTOR.
Therefore, cancer-causing signaling is not blocked. He has identified a new
molecule that is a potent inhibitor of mTOR activity. This award will support
preclinical studies of this novel molecule that will accelerate its translation
in to the clinic for patients with advanced prostate cancer. 

The Stewart Rahr - PCF Young Investigator Award

Ram S. Mani, PhD
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Gene fusions in prostate cancer are early genetic alterations thought to
initiate the process of cancer growth. These fusions are defined by the joining
of two genes normally found in distinct regions of the genome. Dr. Mani proposes
to exploit this finding by identifying molecules that block the cellular
machinery responsible for generating gene fusions, thereby preventing prostate
cancer initiation or progression. The identification of such molecules would
define a new class of anti-cancer medicines that could slow cancer progression
and may enhance the efficacy of existing treatments. 

The Stewart Rahr - PCF Young Investigator Award

Edwin Posadas, MD
University of Chicago

Dr. Posadas` research goal is to identify the molecular mechanisms of prostate
cancer metastasis. A protein called FYN, which is a member of a cancer-causing
gene family, was identified in his laboratory as a possible regulator of
metastasis. The biology of metastasis is driven by molecular changes within
cancer cells that enable cell motility, which contributes to the spread of
cancer throughout the body. Analysis of prostate cancer tumor specimens showed
that there were higher levels of FYN in cancer cells as compared to normal
cells. Dr. Posadas will comprehensively define the function of FYN in prostate
cancer cells. These studies may lead to the development of novel targeted
therapies that block FYN function and prevent prostate cancer metastasis and
cases of advanced prostate cancer in patients. 

About the Prostate Cancer Foundation

The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world`s largest philanthropic source of
support for prostate cancer research focused on discovering better treatments
and a cure for recurrent prostate cancer. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised
nearly $400 million and provided funding to more than 1,500 research projects at
nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness
of prostate cancer and more governmental research funds. PCF advocacy has helped
produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer since 1994.
More information about prostate cancer and the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.

Prostate Cancer Foundation
Dan Zenka, APR
Vice President, Communications
310-570-4714
dzenka@pcf.org
or
Cara Lasala
Sr. Public Relations Specialist
310-570-4727
clasala@pcf.org



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