Subhash Chauhan, PhD, a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a three-year grant totaling $562,500 from the Department of Defense (DOD) to research new therapies for advanced-stage prostate cancer.
“Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States,” Dr. Chauhan said. The American Cancer Society estimated earlier this year that roughly 233,000 men in the United States would be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 29,480 would die from it. African-American men experience 2.5 times greater risk of prostate cancer death compared to Caucasian men.
“We don’t have any effective therapies for metastatic prostate cancer,” Dr. Chauhan said. Presently, chemotherapy is used to treat advanced-stage prostate cancer, but results are limited. More needs to be known about the molecular activity of this disease in order to develop new and effective treatments.
Dr. Chauhan, Meena Jaggi, PhD, associate professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and other members of their team will investigate whether the drug ormeloxifene, currently used as an oral contraceptive, can be repurposed as a treatment for prostate cancer, inhibiting the pathways that signal metastasis and blocking the estrogen and progesterone that trigger the abnormal cell growth.
Ormeloxifene is an established and safe drug for human use, and thus would be safe for multiple administrations during cancer treatment. It has never been investigated for use as an anti-cancer drug, but if research proves its effectiveness, clinical translation could be rapid.
The DOD Idea Development Award is a prestigious grant given to a small number of researchers annually. “We feel very good about it,” Dr. Chauhan said.