January 22, 2021

Dr. Heath to develop nationwide prostate cancer tumor atlas

Elisabeth Heath, M.D., FACP, professor of Oncology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, will serve as co-principal investigator in developing a nationwide multidimensional tumor atlas to investigate tumor biology and predict improved treatment combinations that can overcome treatment resistance in prostate cancer.

Dr. Heath, associate center director of Translational Sciences and leader of the Genitourinary Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, along with Peter Nelson,

Elisabeth Heath, M.D.

M.D., professor of Medicine, Division of Oncology at the University of Washington, secured a 2020 Prostate Cancer Foundation Challenge Award to create the atlas. Wael Sakr, M.D., chair of the WSU Department of Pathology and member of the Genitourinary Oncology Multidisciplinary Team, serves as a co-investigator.

The project, “PC-REACTR: A Multidimensional Tumor Atlas to Overcome Prostate Cancer Therapy Resistance,” will create a multidimensional tumor atlas to investigate tumor biology and predict improved treatment combinations that can overcome treatment resistance.

“We’ve made great progress in treatments for metastatic prostate cancer, but resistance to current therapies and disease progression inevitably happens,” Dr. Heath said. “We need to get a better understanding of the variability and complexity of advanced prostate cancer so we can create new treatment strategies that will overcome resistance and lead to better tumor control for our patients. This atlas will create a broader, more comprehensive view of cases and give us the ability to devise new treatment combinations.”

The tumor atlas will contain data on genomic alterations, gene expression and imaging of the tumor microenvironment over time in patients treated with standard of care and emerging therapeutics for advanced prostate cancer. This “4-D” information will be used in mathematical models to identify the mechanisms by which prostate cancer becomes drug-resistant and to predict new treatment approaches that can overcome resistance. The models will aid in the design of clinical trials directed at overcoming therapy resistance for standard and experimental treatment modalities.

The atlas will be made available as an open-access resource for the scientific community.

PCF Challenge Awards fund international, multi-institutional and cross-disciplinary teams of investigators conducting innovative research with the greatest potential for accelerating new and improved treatments for advanced prostate cancer. Following a rigorous peer-review process that assessed each project’s scientific merit and potential patient impact, 12 PCF Challenge Awards totaling $11 million were granted to teams at some of the world’s leading cancer research institutions.

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