Knudsen and Kelly Receive NCI Funding


Karen Knudsen and Kevin KellyTwo Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center investigators, Karen Knudsen, PhD, and Wm. Kevin Kelly, DO, have been awarded a new R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop more effective therapeutic strategies for advanced prostate cancer.

The project builds on previous discoveries from these investigators that identified specific cell cycle alterations in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer and will now apply state-of-the-art precision medicine approaches to identify which alterations are present in individual patients, thereby allowing optimal personalized therapy and improved patient outcomes.

“At present, all patients with metastatic prostate cancer are treated identically, without selection for appropriate therapeutic regimens based on tumor profiling,” Knudsen said. “Recent studies from our laboratory and others strongly suggest that certain cell cycle alterations are major effectors of disease progression; conversely, these alterations provide new opportunities for tumor stratification, precision medicine, and development of more effective treatment regimens tailored to match the particular cell cycle variations detected in individual patients.”

The project will integrate basic research, patient biopsy samples, and ongoing clinical trials to not only categorize the molecular subtypes of cell cycle changes present in different patients but also to elucidate the cellular role they play in driving aggressive, metastatic prostate cancer as well as how they influence the response of each subtype to different chemotherapy regimens. Through a more complete understanding of the spectrum of cell cycle alterations contributing to advanced prostate cancer, their potential utility as biomarkers for different cancer subtypes, and their predictive value for therapeutic response to various treatment approaches, this project exemplifies a truly revolutionary approach to cancer treatment — attacking each patient’s cancer with precision, laser-guided missiles rather than a massive fusillade of conventional artillery.

Kelly noted, “Our project will explore untouched territory with regard to prostate cancer targeted therapy-based management and will provide the first assessment of treatment based on subtyping in this disease context.  Moreover, the research could provide one of the first biomarkers that can stratify prostate cancer treatment and improve therapy for patients with advanced disease.”

Knudsen is Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and founder and previous leader of the SKCC Prostate Cancer Program. Kelly is the Associate Director of Clinical Research at SKCC and a current leader of the Prostate Cancer Program.