Centre awarded three CIHR Project Grants in Fall 2016 competition

16/05/17

Congratulations to Drs. Collins, Daugaard & Wang on being awarded five-year grants in the CIHR Project Grant: Fall 2016 competition. Dr. Wang is also a co-investigator on a five-year grant awarded to Dr. He at University Health Network (Toronto). Congratulations also to Dr. William Morris of the BC Cancer Agency and his research team, including our Centre's Dr. Alan So, on being awarded a six-year grant in the same competition.

The Project Grant program is designed to capture ideas with the greatest potential to advance health-related fundamental or applied knowledge, health research, health care, health systems, and/or health outcomes. It supports projects with a specific purpose and a defined endpoint. The best ideas may stem from new, incremental, innovative, and/or high-risk lines of inquiry or knowledge translation approaches.

Successful proposals from our Centre are:

  • Identification of HP1a as a key regulator and a novel therapeutic target for neuroendocrine prostate cancer. PI: Wang, Yuzhuo. Co-I: Cherkasov, Artem. $765,000
    • The ultimate goals of this project are to have a better understanding of the function of HP1a in neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) and to produce potential therapeutics designed to target HP1a and hence suppress NEPC development. When successful, this study will improve our understanding of mechanisms underlying the development of NEPC and also provide new insights for the personalized treatment strategy for prostate cancer patients. Identification of novel therapeutic agents in this study will lead to more effective therapy and better quality of life of prostate cancer patients.
  • Stromal Gene Expression Predicts and May Drive Metastasis in Prostate Cancer.  PIs: Collins, Colin C; Daugaard, Mads; Wang, Yuzhuo.  Co-Is: Bristow, Robert G; Fradet, Yves; Gleave, Martin E; Hach, Faraz.  $956,250
    • The purpose of this proposal is three-fold: to further validate the Stromal Metastatic Signature (SMS), a group of 93 genes only active in the mouse stroma associated with metastasis, using additional large human tumour cohorts; to improve the SMS prognostic value by integrating existing tumour-based signatures; and to test the hypothesis that the stromal compartment drives metastasis using a novel therapeutic agent developed in our research centre. This very innovative project represents a unique opportunity to apply novel and exciting research findings to the advancement of an important health issue.
  • Regulation and function of chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycans in urologic cancers. PI: Daugaard, Mads. Co-Is: Al Nakouzi, Nader; Black, Peter C; Guns, Emma S; Oo, Htoo Zarni. $726,750
    • The human placenta and cancer cells express a common type of carbohydrate chain on their cell surface proteins called chondroitin sulfate (CS). The presence of a CS carbohydrate on cancer cells has allowed us to take advantage of an evolutionarily optimized protein called VAR2CSA from the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In this project we will elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind CS reconfigurations in human prostate and bladder cancer, and establish the role of these CS modifications in tumor cell growth and survival. Our work will provide new insight into the regulation and function of cancer-associated carbohydrates, essential for developing effective therapeutic strategies targeting human cancer.

Successful proposals in which Centre scientists are co-invesitgators:

  • Function of circular RNA in prostate cancer development and progression. PI:  He, Housheng H. Co-I: Boutros, Paul C; Wang, Yuzhuo. $573,750
    • Additional prognostic and predictive factors as well as improved treatment strategies are in great need for the management of prostate cancer. We have identified more than a hundred circular RNAs that may drive prostate cancer development and progression. As circular RNAs are resistant to endonuclease digestion and are thus more stable in bloodstream, they have the potential to serve as non-invasive biomarker using liquid biopsy. Our research will bring together expertise in basic cancer research and clinical oncology to implement all our findings into clinical application to improve cure and personalize the care of cancer patients.
  • Optimizing the Curative Treatment for High Risk Prostate Cancer: Combining Advanced Imaging, Trans-perineal Mapping Biopsies, and Dual Air Kerma Strength LDR Brachytherapy Implants to Minimize Radiation Dose to Normal Tissues. PI:Morris, William J; Peacock, Michael D; Salcudean, Septimiu E. Co-I: Benard, Francois; Chang, Silvia D; Kozlowski, Piotr; Mahdavi, Sara; So, Alan I; Spadinger, Ingrid T. $1,113,078.
    • We propose to develop and evaluate a new alternative for treatment of high-risk prostate cancer which involves: 1- Template-guided, trans-perineal mapping biopsy (TTMB) for accurate tumor localization. 2- Multi-modal, multi-parametric imaging (MRI, ultrasound, and PET/CT) for patient selection and follow-up. 3- Novel dual-source based focal low-dose-rate prostate brachytherapy for improved targeting of the tumor. Cancer maps created from multi-modal, multi-parametric imaging will ultimately be used to guide or replace TTMB for patient selection, treatment planning and follow-up. We expect the proposed approach to provide a treatment alternative with fewer adverse effects for approximately 15-20% of men with high-risk prostate cancer.

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