Cancer researchers awarded grant to study genomic alterations in prostate cancer

Paul Boutros, PhD, Robert Reiter MD, Hui Hui Ye, MD, MS
From left: Paul Boutros, PhD, Robert Reiter MD, Hui Hui Ye, MD, MS

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Paul Boutros, PhD, Robert Reiter, MD, and Huihui Ye, MD, MS, of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have received the 2020 Prostate Cancer Foundation Special Challenge Award to help improve the understanding of prostate cancer biology and identify new ways to help prevent, diagnose, prognose and treat lethal prostate cancer.

This cross-disciplinary team of investigators was awarded $500,000 to study how germline variation influences the way genes are activated in prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is one of the most heritable forms of cancer, and a number of heritable germline genomic alterations increases the risk for prostate cancer. However, it remains unclear how germline genome features influence prostate cancer initiation and progression.

Boutros and the team will determine whether germline features influence the circular RNA landscape of localized prostate cancer, which they were the first to discover in 2018. Circular RNAs form covalent circular structures and have many different cellular functions in normal processes as well as in diseases such as cancer.

The researchers will also see if the circular RNA landscape of localized prostate cancer varies among patients of different ancestries.

"This collaboration is the first to study how the germline genome influences the circular RNA landscape of prostate cancer," said Boutros, director of cancer data science for the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer. "If successful, it will help lay down the groundwork for the development of new risk prediction tools, prognostic biomarkers and personalized treatments for men with prostate cancer."

All three researchers are members of the UCLA Institute of Urologic Oncology.