Dr. Bhat receives funds to study prostate cancer treatments

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dr. Bhat receives funds to study prostate cancer treatments

A Hormel Institute scientist and his team have received a $1.7 million grant to develop new treatment options for prostate cancer.

Dr. Mohammad Saleem Bhat, leader of the Molecular Chemoprevention & Therapeutics research section at The Institute, received a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to continue work on developing new treatment options, particularly when prostate cancer metastasizes.

Dr. Mohammad Saleem Bhat

Dr. Mohammad Saleem Bhat

There are few treatment options for the metastatic prostate cancer disease, primarily due to a lack of knowledge about the molecular pathway that drives the phenomenon of metastasis at the cellular level. This study and the identification of molecular mechanisms underlying metastasis could lead to the identification of new targets for new drugs to treat this lethal disease.

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Bhat’s team has identified such a molecular mechanism. Using cutting-edge technology, such as genetically engineering tumor cells and super computer-based molecular docking, Bhat’s team proved that S100A4, a calcium-binding protein, is increased during progressive stages of prostate cancer development. This protein regulates the migration of metastatic prostate tumor cells.

“By targeting S100A4 we could inhibit metastasis in genetically engineered models and identified a novel small molecule inhibitor of S100A4 protein,” Bhat said in a press release. “The initial testing of this inhibitor has provided a rationale to test it under large scale experimental conditions.”

The team will also test a neutralizing antibody against this protein at The Hormel Institute through further testing. Since very few options are available to treat metastatic prostate cancer, this project aims to identify a new target-based approach to prevent and treat the disease in men.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States after skin cancer and is the second-leading cause of death from cancer in men. The disease often does not have early symptoms and typically grows slowly, according to the National Cancer Institute.

For those interested in supporting research, The Hormel Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong established a special fund for donations to go specifically toward prostate cancer research following the successful “Bowling for the Battle” prostate cancer research fundraiser started by Tom and Doreen Gillard in 2015. As with any gift to The Hormel Institute, 100 percent of each donation directly funds cancer research.