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Prostate Cancer Research

Inspired by the bravery of our patients, we are committed to pursuing even outrageous possibilities. Our process is unparalleled – we draw from Duke’s entire pool of world-class talent and resources to foster collaborative exchanges of knowledge and promote innovation.

Our utilizing this multi-disciplinary approach, we lead the field in breakthrough research that transforms how we prevent, diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Together, we are moving further, faster and with greater purpose.

Clinical Research

Duke Prostate & Urologic Cancer Center is leading clinical trials which are improving the way we diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Our physicians work with pharmaceutical companies to design clinical trials that allow us to study all phases of prostate cancer and to focus on the following areas: 

  • Health disparities biology/therapy
    • There are substantially higher rates of prostate cancer among African American men than men of other racial/ethnic groups. Our group studies how the biology of the cancer is different between groups?  We are committed to finding whether certain therapies work better in one group or the other.   
  • Novel immunotherapies
    • Our immune systems can recognize and fight cancer, but sometimes the cancer develops ways to trick our immune systems. Immunotherapies target our immune system to help fight the cancer.  We are committed to developing, identifying and testing new immunotherapies to improve how we treat prostate cancer.  
  • Precision/predictive medicine and biomarkers of aggressive disease
    • Our genes, lifestyles and environment can affect the way prostate cancer develops and responds to certain treatments. We study DNA and other molecules in cancer cells to tailor prostate cancer treatments to the patient being treated. We work to identify biomarkers or biological differences between more or less aggressive prostate cancers, and question whether this information will be useful in making decisions about treatment for patients.  
  • Multi-disciplinary trials
    • At our center, specialists from medical, surgical and radiation oncology work together to transform prostate cancer care. 
  • Survivorship studies
    • We lead in studies that help patients and their families recover from the stress and long-term effects of prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. Through these, we are ensuring that prostate cancer survivors are receiving the follow-up care they need.  

For more information on available clinical trials, click here.

Pre-Clinical & Translational Research

The Duke Prostate & Urologic Cancer Center seeks to translate cutting-edge basic science research into improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. This approach is called translational research. Our Prostate Cancer Translational Research program studies:  

  • Molecular Mechanisms, Biomarkers and Therapies for Prostate Cancer
    • Interrogation of molecular mechanisms driving prostate cancer progression and resistance to treatment
    • Use of urine-, blood- and tissue-based, and imaging biomarkers to better identify patients in need of treatment and to individually tailor treatment
    • Examination of tissue and circulating biomarkers to understand how cancer changes and adapts in order to reduce and prevent metastasis
    • Development of therapies based on molecular mechanisms underlying progression and resistance to treatment, and to overcome heterogeneity and plasticity 
       
  • Immunotherapies for Prostate Cancer 
    • Development of vaccines, immune checkpoint inhibitors and oncolytic viruses to recognize and destroy prostate cancer
    • Investigation of immune checkpoints and inhibitors to overcome immune tolerance of prostate cancer
    • Establishment of animal models of prostate cancer with intact immune systems to model treatments
       
  • Prostate Cancer Disparities
    • Interrogation of molecular mechanisms underlying race-related prostate tumor aggressiveness
    • Development of biomarkers based on mechanisms of race-related tumor aggressiveness to better predict how aggressive a patient’s prostate cancer will be
    • Modulation of mechanisms of race-related tumor aggressiveness to better treat patients whose prostate cancer is dependent on these mechanisms
    • Determination of the importance of mechanisms of race-related prostate tumor aggressiveness for response to current therapeutic strategies
    • Establishment of preclinical models of prostate cancer from racially and ethnically diverse patient populations
    • Identification of biological, lifestyle, social and structural interactions that drive prostate cancer disparities
       
  • Prostate Cancer Diagnositics
    • Utilization and improved performance metrics of mpMRI, MRI-TRUS fusion image-guided prostate biopsy
    • Molecular markers to enhance the diagnosis and risk stratification of prostate cancer
    • Development, in partnership with Duke Biomedical Engineering, Acoustic Radiation Force Impluse (ARFI) imaging as a means to detect and target prostate tumors using a real-time, non-fusion platform
       
  • Focal Therapy
    • Investigation of data surrounding minimally-invasive prostate cancer ablative therapy for patients treated with cyroablation