PROSTATE CANCER INSTITUTE OPENS IN NEW BRUNSWICK
It was indeed a sunny day for the opening of a new prostate cancer center and also the announcement of a research finding that may yield crucial information about the genetics of this disease. The Dean & Betty Gallo Prostate Cancer Institute - formally opened in New Brunswick on May 24 as part of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey - was named for Rep. Dean A. Gallo, R-Parsippany, who died of the disease in 1994, and his wife, Betty, who has become an advocate for gaining funds to advance research and treatment. The Center was created with $1 million in federal support.
Researcher Cory Abate-Shen, PhD, a member of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM), and associate professor, Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, is the Institutes newly-appointed director. She announced that the team she directs with her collaborator Michael Shen, PhD, also a member of CABM, has created a genetically-engineered mouse without a gene - called Nkx3.1 - believed to be responsible for normal prostate development and to contribute to prostate cancer when damaged or missing. This mouse-line develops defects in its prostate cells that worsen with age and mimic a precancerous condition. Mice with a single copy of the gene also exhibit prostate defects as they age. The new mouse can be used to study normal prostate development, as well as gene defects that lead to prostate cancer.
Other groups have reported that a deletion of one copy of the human counterpart of the gene - located on chromosome 8 - has been demonstrated in 60 to 80 percent of prostate tumors. According to Abate-Shen the gene seems to function as a tumor suppressor, and is a member of the homeobox protein family, widely studied for its role in embryonic development.
We can use these mice to find other genes that cause prostate cancer, to investigate the environmental and dietary factors that promote cancer, to test new drugs and find effective strategies to prevent this disease, says Abate-Shen. The findings were reported in the journal Genes & Development, April 13, 1999.
Funding for the new institute was obtained by Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, who took over Gallo's congressional seat. Center officials are now working to get an additional $5 million for basic research and treatment.
The magazine of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey