Research Overview

Exploiting cancer genomics and the tumor microenvironment to guide oncology treatment

Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in men with more than 160,000 new cases diagnosed yearly in the US and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide.  Prostate cancer exhibits features relevant to essentially every aspect of cancer research as well as several features relatively unique to prostate cancer:

  1. Prostate cancer is driven by the androgen receptor (AR), a ‘lineage oncogene’ nuclear hormone receptor that is a major target for therapy.
  2. There is a clear genetic predisposition with higher rates of aggressive cancer in certain families – particularly those with inherited mutations in BRCA1/2.
  3. Major technological advances in DNA sequencing now provide an opportunity to comprehensively detail every molecular change that occurs in a given tumor and it is clear that molecular subtypes are driven by combinations of oncogenes and tumor suppressors.
  4. Current treatment approaches fail to cure advanced prostate cancer. New therapeutic strategies are required.  Our current approach is to exploit clinically relevant models of prostate cancer that reflect the molecular diversity of prostate cancer subtypes, and to identify synergistic drug combinations, including immune based therapy, capable of producing complete responses.
  5. There is a remarkable predilection for metastasis to bone – emphasizing the importance of the tumor microenvironment both in dictating metastatic tropism as well as driving treatment resistance.
DNA mutation graph
DNA mutation signatures associate with underlying tumor defects in DNA repair mechanisms

Our objectives are to develop a fundamental understanding of the genesis and progression of prostate cancer in order to avoid “one-size-fits-all” treatments, eliminate ineffective therapy, and precisely apply interventions tailored to individual tumor vulnerabilities.