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University of Iowa News

March 20, 2006

UI Researchers Receive Prostate Cancer Foundation Grant

Michael Henry, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and biophysics in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has received a $100,000 grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to investigate the potential of using a gene silencing technology known as RNA interference (RNAi) to treat certain forms of metastatic prostate cancer.

Henry and his team, which includes Oskar Rokhlin, Ph.D., UI adjunct professor of pathology and Michael Cohen, M.D., the Dr. Richard G. Lynch Chair in Experimental Pathology and UI professor and head of pathology, will use RNAi to reduce the expression of androgen receptor (AR) protein in animal models of metastatic prostate cancer. AR appears to be important in advanced prostate cancers that do not respond to current hormonal therapies. The researchers, who are all members of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI, hope to show that reducing the expression of this protein blocks the growth of metastatic prostate cancer.

Many types of cancer, and prostate cancer in particular, show enhanced absorption of cholesterol. The UI team will exploit this fact by using modified RNAi molecules tagged with cholesterol to target the therapy to tumor cells.

The team will determine if this RNAi approach can silence specific genes and produce an anti-tumor effect in AR-positive prostate cancer cells. They also will look at relative absorption of modified RNAi molecules by tumors compared to normal tissue and assess the toxicity of the treatment.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised more than $260 million and provided funding for prostate cancer research to more than 1,200 researchers at 100 institutions worldwide. PCF has a simple, yet urgent goal: to find better treatments and a cure for recurrent prostate cancer. For more information, please visit

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-335-9917