UCLA researchers awarded $1M grant to advance prostate cancer research

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UCLA researchers Drs. Johannes Czernin and Caius Radu have been awarded a 2017 Challenge Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to fund their preclinical studies and clinical trials testing the efficacy of 177-Lu-PSMA-617, a novel radiation-emitting targeted therapy for prostate cancer.

The Challenge Awards recognize teams of scientists' worldwide who are conducting groundbreaking research that supports potential breakthrough treatment for prostate cancer patients. Each team will received $1 million over two years to fund their projects. Czernin and Radu were one of eight teams selected out of 92 international applications following an extensive review process that assessed each project's scientific research and its potential benefit to patients.

Czernin and Radu are both professors and vice chairs in the department of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The focus of their research is to improve the outcome of cancer patients by identifying cancer cell liabilities that can be exploited therapeutically. The prostate cancer research project combines radioligand therapy targeting the Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) with various pharmacologic approaches.

"We are grateful for this opportunity provided by the Prostate Cancer Foundation that allows us to further intensify our translational research program to improve patient outcomes," said Czernin, who also serves as co-director of the JCCC's Molecular Imaging Program.   

Drs. Robert Reiter, Matthew Rettig and Nick Nickols also collaborated with the research team as co-investigators. They are also members of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, the Prostate Cancer Foundation's president and chief executive officer says they are proud to fund these teams who will be conducting life-saving research for patients with prostate cancer.

"The research conducted by these teams will change the face of how we view the treatment landscape of prostate cancer and have the potential to result in cures even for men with very advanced disease who previously had no further treatment options available."

Challenge grant recipients were chosen by a peer review committee of scientific and clinical experts.