It is always a great time to support cancer research, but as Father’s Day approaches, please consider helping The Wistar Institute in an effort that will help dads everywhere.
New Tools to Fight Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer takes a staggering toll on men. It is the leading cause of death from cancer in men over 75, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men, overall. Simply put, if a man lives long enough, chances are that he will develop prostate cancer. If not caught early, malignant prostate tumors can metastasize, or spread, which greatly lowers a man’s chance of survival.
This is where Dario Altieri, M.D. comes in. Altieri is the Wistar’s Cancer Center director, chief scientific officer, the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor, and a dad. His laboratory is working on a method to kill metastatic prostate tumors using molecules they discovered called gamitrinibs. These gamitrinibs are powerful anti-cancer agents that can kill tumors by targeting their mitochondria—the components within cells that provide energy—which the prostate tumors have set in overdrive to power their ability to spread.
Their early studies have met with success, but the Altieri laboratory needs to conduct more research if they hope to meet their goal of developing an effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer.
Changing the Way We Screen for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is currently diagnosed using the PSA blood test, usually in conjunction with a digital rectal exam. However, these screening methods have resulted in over-diagnosis and over-treatment of the disease. Many men have suffered serious side effects from surgeries and therapeutic treatments that do not benefit a substantial portion of the patients.
This is where David W. Speicher, Ph.D., comes in. Speicher, the Caspar Wistar Professor in Computational and Systems Biology and noted grandfather, is currently looking to change the way doctors screen patients for prostate cancer treatment. The Speicher laboratory seeks to separate patients with indolent tumors—very slow growing tumors that do not pose a major health risk—from patients with aggressive and life-threatening tumors who would benefit from treatment.
Using patient samples and a mouse model for prostate cancer, Speicher’s team has found approximately 100 candidate prostate cancer biomarkers—blood borne proteins like the prostate specific antigen found in PSA tests—that could form the basis of a new blood test to classify prostate cancers.
In order to refine this idea into a useful lab test, however, the researchers will need to weed through these 100 candidates, selecting the biomarkers that will form the basis of the most efficient panel. To do so, Speicher must perform many studies using blood samples from patients from patients with aggressive and indolent prostate cancer.
Support Wistar, Fight Cancer
And here’s where you come in. Supporting The Wistar Institute will enable us to support researchers like Dario Altieri and David Speicher in translating their scientific discoveries into better cancer treatments for patients. This Father’s Day, consider making a gift to Wistar that will help men everywhere. It is only with your help that Wistar science can save lives.