Wayne State researcher receives award for potential prostate cancer treatmentMay 29, 2008
Dr. Zhiwei Wang, a postdoctoral fellow in Department of Pathology in WSU's School of Medicine, received a $106,121 award from the U.S. Department of Defense for his research on the genes involved in the proliferation, migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells.
Wang is investigating Jagged-1, a gene believed to be associated with Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer - a state the disease sometimes reaches when hormone treatment is no longer affective - and metastatic prostate cancer - the condition in which the disease spreads from the prostate to other parts of the body.
While most cases of prostate cancer are treatable, the instances where the disease progresses to hormone refractory prostate cancer or metastatic disease usually end in death, Dr. Wang said.
"There is a dire need for the development of novel strategies by which HRPC and metastatic disease could be treated with a better outcome," he said.
Wang may have one such novel strategy with his work involving Jagged-1. In his preliminary studies, he has found that a natural product he has been testing decreases Jagged-1 expression.
Before its impact can be assessed, however, Wang will first investigate whether the heightened expression of Jagged-1 causes the progression to more severe stages in prostate cancer, as past studies have suggested. If a connection is found between Jagged-1 and the spread of prostate cancer, Wang will test whether this natural product can help keep prostate cancer in the more treatable forms.
The results, Wang said, could be an alternative treatment for prostate cancer - used in conjunction with more traditional forms of cancer treatment - in the form of a pill. It could also lead to patients needing lower doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapies. Most importantly, HRPC and metastatic disease may finally have effective treatments.
"Dr. Wang's research reflects the type of ingenuity and vigor needed for fighting the most commonly diagnosed cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in the United States," said Dr. Joe Dunbar, associate vice president for Research at Wayne State. "With no practical methods for treating either Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer or Metastatic Prostate Cancer currently in existence, Wang's work gives new hope to those battling this devastating disease, and exemplifies Wayne State's dedication to cutting edge research that will change people's lives."
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