Wayne State researchers receive DoD funding for prostate cancer biomarker discovery project

depiction of prostate cancer

New research from Wayne State University centered on discovering clinically useful biomarkers of prostate cancer has been funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) Prostate Cancer Research Program. The three-year project received $863,222 as a DoD Idea Development Award.

Suzan Arslanturk, assistant professor of computer science, is the project’s principal investigator. Sorin Draghici, professor of computer science, is a co-PI on the project. Professor Elisabeth Heath and Associate Professor Gregory Dyson from the Department of Oncology in the Wayne State University School of Medicine are also co-PIs.

Suzan Arslanturk
Suzan Arslanturk

“Prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, is a relatively slow-growing malignancy with multiple early treatment options,” said Arslanturk. “Yet, 49 to 58% of low-risk prostate cancer patients are over-diagnosed and over-treated with significant and long-term quality-of-life effects.”

Biomarkers based on the molecular properties of tumors offer earlier and more accurate prediction capability. Because most screening tests do not provide enough information for physicians to distinguish between life-threatening prostate cancer tumors and those that are benign, new biomarkers are needed to allow for better treatment planning.

Oncologists have discovered biological similarities between breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. This presents an opportunity for computer scientists, experts in harnessing and analyzing data, to create learning models and apply this knowledge toward repurposing drugs and investigating new treatments appropriate to the severity of the disease.

“This research will significantly improve patient care by discovering a set biomarkers associated with primary and lethal prostate cancers, which would lead to more targeted and personalized treatment decisions,” said Arslanturk.

The award number for this DoD grant is W81XWH-21-1-0570.


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