Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) will be able to continue its revolutionary research on prostate cancer – a disease that killed more than 27,000 men in the United States in 2006 – thanks to a new grant by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC) Distinguished Cancer Scholar E. Shyam P. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and co-director, Cancer Biology Program, MSM Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System and has received a $525,000 grant from the DOD to continue his groundbreaking work on prostate cancer.
African-American males are 1.7 times more likely to develop, and two to three times more likely to die
from prostate cancer than White males. Thus, African-American males within the United States are
affected disproportionately by prostate cancer compared to White males. One of the goals of the DOD program is to identify features of molecular pathways that differentially affect African-American males compared to White males.
The ERG gene discovered by Reddy and Veena N. Rao, Ph.D., co-director of the Cancer Biology Program,
is involved in 60 to 80 percent of prostate cancers. Reddy and his colleagues (Rao; Roland Matthews, M.D.; Yasuo Fujimura, Ph.D.; Ganapathy K. Bhat, Ph.D.; and Shubhalaxmi Kayarthodi) developed a novel cell based assay to assess the function of ERG proteins. Using this novel assay, Reddy identified a novel targeted therapeutic agent that inhibits ERG function and also functions as an anticancerous agent against prostate cancer.
“This award gives us an opportunity to study the mechanism of action of this novel drug, which may lead to the cure of prostate cancer,” said Reddy. “It also will enable us to develop more potent drugs that are targeted against prostate cancer.”
Reddy will use the award to test the novel drug in preclinical trials. The studies will not only explain the
molecular mechanism of activation of the ERG gene in human prostate cancers, but also provide clues for therapeutic intervention.
Reddy and Rao also have identified several other novel drugs that function as targeted therapeutic agents against a variety of cancers including prostate, pancreatic, ovarian, colorectal and triple negative breast cancer.
“We take this opportunity to thank the GCC for its support and encouragement. Without the GCC
Distinguished Cancer Scholar award, we would not have discovered these novel drugs,” said Reddy. “We are truly grateful to GCC for standing up for our cancer research. These novel targeted therapeutic agents will also
help to reduce health disparities seen among minorities, which supports the mission of Morehouse School of Medicine.”