The UCLA Prostate Cancer Program is the only program in Southern California and one of only three programs in the western U.S to be designated a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) by the National Cancer Institute. With this distinction, UCLA earned an $11.5 million grant to enhance the program's ability to integrate laboratory and clinical researchers in a joint effort to improve detection, treatment and prevention of prostate cancer.
UCLA is committed to rapidly translating basic research from the laboratory to the clinic in order to advance care for men with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a disease that, when diagnosed and treated early, is highly curable - and one for which there are many different treatment options, each with its own pros and cons when it comes to efficacy and quality of life impact. UCLA is among the nation's most active centers for prostate cancer treatment, and few centers are as comprehensive as UCLA’s Prostate Cancer Program, which not only offers the full spectrum of treatment options, but also integrates research with clinical care.
The Prostate Cancer Program includes internationally regarded researchers. Basic science research conducted by Robert Reiter, MD, Director of the UCLA Prostate Cancer Program, led to the discovery of Prostate Stem Cell Antigen (PSCA), a gene found more extensively in cancerous prostate cells than in normal prostate cells. Dr. Reiter's research is now focusing on the development of PSCA monoclonal antibodies to prevent tumors from growing or spreading to other parts of the body, and shows great promise in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.
Another research project for prostate cancer treatment is based on the discovery by former UCLA researcher Charles Sawyers M.D. of the role a specific gene, PTEN, plays in blocking the growth of tumors. The study, which is in the clinical trials stage and is the only one of its kind in the world, is based on the use of an immunosuppressive drug approved for kidney transplant patients and may prove beneficial for high risk patients with localized prostate cancer.
The UCLA Prostate Cancer Index, developed by Mark Litwin, M.D., M.P.H., has become the gold standard worldwide in measuring outcomes and quality of life in prostate cancer survivors, and is now in use in over 200 studies throughout North America. In 2001, the State of California acknowledged UCLA's leadership in the fight against prostate cancer by awarding the Department of Urology $50 million to administer IMPACT, a statewide prostate cancer awareness and treatment program targeting uninsured men.