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Department of Urology receives $150,000 Grant from the T. J. Martell Foundation

February 7, 2011 11:28 AM

The Department of Urology has received a grant renewal from the T.J. Martell Foundation to advance its program to study prostate and bladder cancer. In past years, this funding has been used to support innovative basic science research projects as well as initial clinical studies of prostate cancer prevention and therapeutic approaches for advanced prostate cancer. Based on our research into the molecular mechanisms of hormone refractory prostate cancer and bladder cancer, we have initiated translational clinical trials.

High risk, non-muscle invasive bladder is traditionally initially treated with intravesical BCG. However, approximately 50% of patients treated will eventually relapse and they often require a radical cystectomy. Our initial research demonstrated that an intravesical taxane, docetaxel, was highly effective in providing these patients with a therapeutic salvage, thereby avoiding the need for major surgery and the quality of life impact of bladder removal. Our team has discovered the molecular mechanism of taxane resistance in bladder cancer cell lines. The tau and stathmin proteins convey taxane resistance and this information is being used to identify patients who are likely to respond and more importantly, those who will not since they will require more aggressive therapy which can then be instituted earlier. This observation is now leading to bedside to bench research to determine how to circumvent this resistance.

During this past year, T.J. Martell funds were also used to support new investigations into the aggressive nature of prostate cancers in African-American men, a study that has also attracted critical seed support from the U.S. Department of Defense. Currently, we are investigating prostate cancer in Caribbean men to determine if their high incidence (highest incidence in the world) can be explained by infectious (viral) or a specific inflammatory response to infection.

Principal Investigator

Mitchell C. Benson, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Urology


Cory Abate-Shen, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Urology and Pathology

Cathy Mendelsohn, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Departments of Urology and Genetics

Daniel Petrylak, M.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine