The Brady Urological Institute has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study novel translational approaches for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men. Named after a congressman from Illinois, George M. O’Brien, who died of prostate cancer, there are only four Centers in the United States focused on benign urologic diseases and ours was the only one awarded in the last round of funding.
The Hopkins O’Brien Center is focused on three central projects. The first, headed by Elizabeth Platz, is a population based study to examine the role of inflammation in etiology of LUTS. While inflammation is a central element of prostatic diseases, this project will shed new light into specific inflammatory pathways that may be altered and therefore reveal novel therapeutic targets.
The second project, is examining a novel biomarker for highly symptomatic BPH/LUTS known as JM-27 or PAGE-4. This marker, found in the blood, may provide for the early identification of the more severe forms of the disease and therefore personalize treatment approaches.
The final project is headed by William Isaacs and will focus on conducting an entire genomic analysis in order to find genetic signatures associated with LUTS. As with the others projects, this is the first of its kind study.
In addition to these projects, this Center provides funds for pilot projects proposing new ideas that have been solicited from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland and coordinates with our training grant to increase our educational efforts. The Center will be the focal point of BPH/LUTS research through the country and compliments well our studies on the second most common disease of the prostate, cancer.
Currently, the two pilot projects underway at the Center are: Cancer/Testis Antigens and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia/LUTS (Prakash Kulkarni), and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Genomic Encyclopedia: analysis and validation of novel and established cellular pathways (Luigi Marchionni).
The first pilot project, Cancer/Testis Antigens and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia/LUTS lead by Prakash Kulkarni, will determine the expression of the Cancer/Testis Antigens in BPH. To this end the team has constructed a custom microarray that is tiled with specific probes representing all the known CTAs. Since these antigens are typically not expressed in other somatic tissues, they provide an excellent opportunity to develop novel biomarkers and therapeutics especially, immunotherapeutics.
The second pilot project, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Genomic Encyclopedia: analysis and validation of novel and established cellular pathways directed by Luigi Marchionni is aimed towards building the molecular understanding of epidemiologically important BPH pathways, through the integration of genomic data analysis and “proof-of-principle” experimental validation in laboratory models.
Additional details regarding the O’Brien Pilot Projects and application package and deadlines are available at: http://pilotprojects.onc.jhmi.edu/