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Prostate Cancer Research

Progress Report: Nima Sharifi, MD

Investigator: Nima Sharifi, MD – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine

Defining New Targets in Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer

Metastatic prostate cancer initially responds to androgen deprivation therapy (ADT; blockade of male hormones such as gonadal androgen testosterone) resulting in tumor regression and improved clinical performance. This response is temporary and most prostate tumors will progress to a castrate resistant state in months to many years in a highly variable process. Although, the blood level of testosterone drops dramatically after ADT, the prostate tumor itself can produce it’s on fuel by auto-synthesis of testosterone. Dr. Sharifi’s research has focused on how prostate tumors are able to metabolically produce their own androgen fuel.

After two years as a PCF Young Investigator award recipient, Dr. Sharifi and colleagues published a report on a new potential drug target for castration resistant prostate cancer, called 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD). 3βHSD is an enzyme that is required for the synthesis of male hormones inside prostate tumors. The authors showed that castrate resistant prostate cancer cell lines stopped growing when treated with compounds that block 3βHSD. Development of new medicines that effectively block the activity of 3βHSD may provide a new treatment for patients with castrate resistant prostate cancer. These agents would directly obstruct the production of prostate cancer fuel within the tumor.

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