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This week we profile a recent publication in Clinical Cancer Research from the laboratory
of Dr. Ralph Buttyan (pictured, third from right) at the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Despite advances in clinical treatments, prostate cancer remains a leading cause of cancer deaths among Canadian men. As the cancer cells readily acquire resistance to novel therapies, the goal of our lab is to describe the molecular processes that enable this resistance, and to develop new and better therapies that target the resistance mechanisms.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Sox9 is a developmental gene that plays a key role in the embryonic formation of the prostate gland. We have shown that prostate cancer cells upregulate Sox9 expression when treated with hormonal therapy, and that this protein facilitates the development of resistance to such treatments. As well, we found that Sox9 expression is associated with increased signalling through NFκB, and this appears to be an effector of the transition to castration resistance. Sox9, therefore, may provide a novel therapeutic target to block the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are currently focusing on determining the Sox9 transcriptome and understanding the genomic network that mediates progression to castration resistant prostate cancer.

This research was funded by:

Prostate Cancer Canada, Prostate Cancer Foundation BC, Movember, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The Terry Fox Research Institute

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