Analysis of prostate cancer progression using functional genomic approaches

In the early stages of prostate cancer, tumour growth is regulated by male sex hormones, called androgens. In treatment, androgens are removed to shrink the prostate tumour. However, the results of this therapy are usually temporary as surviving tumour cells become independent of androgens for growth and survival. I am investigating the genes responsible for this transition. To analyze these genes in a high throughput manner, I have created a Microarray Facility, the second of its kind in Canada. In the Facility, we can put up to tens of thousands of genes at a time on a single microscope slide. With this technology, we can now do experiments in a few days that would have taken years not long ago. We are comparing normal tissue to early and late tumours, and examining which genes are associated with tumour development. This research will identify the genes that cause prostate cancer, and how genes are turned on and off as the cancer progresses. We can use the information to predict when prostate cancer will occur, prevent its onset and develop new treatments that target the cancer-causing genes. In addition, we are investigating the effects environmental contaminants and dietary factors may have on the development and progression of prostate cancer.