The UCLA SPORE in Prostate Cancer would like to congratulate the 2014-2015 Career Enhancement Program awardees. This year’s projects come from various departments across campus and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and exemplify translational research.
Hilary Coller, PhD
Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and Biological Chemistry, UCLA
Project Title: Targeting Androgen-Resistant Prostate Cancer through Metabolic Vulnerabilities
Synopsis: Androgen-independent prostate cancer is a metastatic and aggressive tumor that we have only limited capacity to treat. We hypothesize that an understanding of the metabolism of prostate tumors could result in new therapies for prostate cancer. We plan to use in situ metabolic activity assays to monitor metabolism in prostate tissue culture slices and to test whether specific metabolic inhibitors cause prostate cancer cells to die. Our goal is to identify novel metabolic vulnerabilities of prostate cancer that can be exploited to treat prostate tumors that are currently incurable.
Rajan Kulkarni, MD
David Geffen School Of Medicine, UCLA
Project Title: Evaluating Single-Cell Heterogeneity in Prostate Cancer with Circulating Tumor Cells
Synopsis: Prostate cancer can be caused by a variety of changes in the initial tumor cells. Understanding this variability will be critical to help predict response to newer therapies. We have developed a new technology for isolating circulating cells (CTCs) from the blood of patients with advanced prostate cancer, called Vortex Chip. These CTCs hold promise for exploring variability and may help us design improved treatments for this disease.
Jennifer Murphy, PhD
Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, UCLA
Project Title: Development of a dually labeled (PET/optical) engineered antibody fragment for imaging PSCA-expressing prostate cancer
Synopsis: We hypothesize that an imaging agent for both PET and optical detection of prostate cancer will help solve a major unmet need for molecular imaging in prostate cancer and ultimately help improve clinical management of this disease in patients. Thus, our objective is to develop a multifunctional linker that can be attached to an antibody fragment creating a PET/optical imaging agent for prostate cancer. The PET component can provide whole-body imaging and localize diseased tissue whereas the optical component can be used for intra-operative staging.
Lili Yang, PhD
Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, UCLA
Project Title: Stem Cell-Engineered Invariant Natural Killer T Cells for Prostate Cancer Therapy
Synopsis: This project aims to develop a novel immunotherapy for prostate cancer through genetically engineering blood stem cells to produce invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells targeting prostate cancer. iNKT cells are a type of T lymphocytes that are considered to be the "special forces" of the immune system. These cells are known for their remarkable capacity to mount immediate and powerful responses to diseases such as cancer. Through the combination of stem cell therapy, gene therapy and immunotherapy, this project aims to prove this new therapy in pre-clinical animal model and pave the way for translating this new therapy into clinics.