A team of researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has been awarded a two-year grant for $1 million that will help further develop a new method of prostate cancer molecular imaging. 

The Prostate Cancer Foundation gave the researchers the funding as part of its PCF Challenge Awards. These awards support basic and clinical research that solves problems for cancer patients. The team includes Dr. Johannes Czernin, Dr. Caius Radu, Dr. Matthew Rettig, Dr. Jeremie Calais, Dr. Robert Reiter, Dr. David Dawson, and Dr. David Ulmert; and Katharina Lueckerath, Christine Mona, Catherine Meyer, Magnus Dahlbom and Roger Slavik.

The researchers will continue studying newly developed radiolabeled compounds that bind to the surface proteins of prostate cancer cells and surrounding tissues. These compounds target the prostate-specific membrane antigen on prostate cancer cells and the surrounding tissue, called tumor stroma, that help the cancer cells grow. Once this radioactive compounds bind to the tumors and its environment, physicians may be able to pinpoint and treat the tumors and tissues with therapies such as intravenously applied radiation.

While targeting the prostate-specific membrane antigen for therapy has proven effective, it currently only works for about half of the prostate cancer patients who undergo this type of treatment. 

With the new funding, the UCLA team will conduct preclinical studies to optimize dose scheduling in patients. The team also will study combination therapies that assist with overcoming tumor resistance to prostate-specific membrane antigen targeted therapy so that it can be used to help even more patients.