Bench to Bedside: Providence Researcher Awarded Funds to Create Cancer-Fighting Protein

June 29, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. – Scientific research conducted at a laboratory bench can take decades to translate to a treatment for cancer patients. But Providence Cancer Center researcher Andrew Weinberg, Ph.D., recently received a $935,000 grant from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program for a study that has the potential to fast track a treatment for prostate cancer patients in as little as five years.

Dr. Weinberg’s lab is developing a clinical grade protein that stimulates the body’s immune system to attack prostate cancer cells. The therapeutic protein binds to a human protein called OX40 and activates white blood cells, thus increasing immune function. Patients in a current clinical trial have been given a version of the protein that originates in a mouse and can only be given once.  The grant funds the creation of a fully-humanized version of the protein which can be administered several times, potentially offering patients a better therapeutic outcome.

The grant is a three-year Laboratory-Clinical Transition Award from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program. Established in 1997, the program finds and funds innovative, high-impact research that will eliminate death and suffering from prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. This year in the United States, more than 217,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease and an estimated 32,000 will die from it.