Highlights: Host(H): Welcome to Cancer Newsline http://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/cancer-newsline, a podcast series from University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Today we're talking with Dr. Tim Thompson http://faculty.mdanderson.org/Timothy_Thompson who is a professor in Genitourinary Medical Oncology here at MD Anderson, and also part of MD Anderson's prostate Moon Shot Program http://www.cancermoonshots.org/cancer-types/prostate/. Our moon shot programs are way too quickly move research from the lab to the bedside, translational research will make differences in certain cancers.
H: So, tell us about the prostate moon shot? What were your initial goals when you launched two years ago.
G: All right. Well, the initial goals of our moon shot program sort of mimic important questions that have been out there for prostate cancer actually for decades. One is that it's very difficult to distinguish prostate cancers that are indolent, so called indolent, and really don't have that much potential to progress clinically from those that could progress very rapidly and present serious problems for the patient. So, there was the advent of widespread PSA screening and other tests that bring prostate cancer out and lead to more diagnosis suppressed by cancer. This problem becomes more acute. And so, this again, was one of the two questions that we thought about when we organized our moon shot program. And so we have an effort to really identify biomarkers that will be very accurate in distinguishing indolent from aggressive disease, and through that would give the patient and the physician much more objective information on how far to go with treatment.
H: And prostate cancer http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/cancer-information/cancer-types/prostate-cancer is one of those diseases that sometimes often only require surveillance, you know, especially among older men. So, this would be a way to kind of find out who would benefit from surgery versus surveillance?
G: That's exactly right. And we have an ongoing clinical trial for active surveillance, were then are moon shot program that really has really given us a lot of advantages and approach in this problem. This trial gives us access to tissue, plasma, and serum that we can use to test biomarkers, look at clinical data that's very well annotated and see how our candidate biomarkers really perform within the context of these clinical trials. So, that's one of the pieces of this effort, this way.
H: And we found that PSA is pretty far from perfect.
G: It's far from perfect. It's kind of a red flag type marker. Certainly at the extremes, it gives more information than it does within the so called gray area which is where most prostate cancers are when they're diagnosed. They're in a very, very gray area, nearly 80 percent of prostate cancers that are picked up with screening or picked up by symptoms, fall into this area of--in an area where the physician or the patient really is--doesn't have that much objective information, so they're--you know, they get different opinions, they are--their heads kind of spinning with what to do with regard to initial definitive therapy, so that's where this biomarker effort would come in.
H: So flagship number two in the prostate moon shot is in the clinical setting where you're testing anti-androgen receptor agents.
G: Right … A few years ago there were developments in the field that led to two approved--FDA approved agents - abiraterone and thalidomide … We're testing these drugs to identify biomarkers in patients’ bone marrows … through looking at these bone marrow biopsies, biomarkers have identified that would indicate resistance to these two new second--so-called second generation antiandrogen receptor agents.
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