The Prostate Cancer Group at MOMA

About Prostate Cancer

IHC

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in males in Western countries, including in Denmark where approx. 4500 men are diagnosed every year.

Clinically localized PC is curable by surgery (radical prostatectomy) and radiation therapy, but up to ~30% of the patients experience disease progression within 10 years. However, a considerable number of patients with organ-confined PC will not develop clinically significant disease during their lifetime even without treatment. The routine prognostic indicators available today, including serum PSA (prostate specific antigen), cannot clearly distinguish between these groups, leading to over-diagnosis and over-treatment of many clinically insignificant PC as well as delayed treatment of significant PC.

Thus, a major challenge in PC management is to distinguish between cases that will progress rapidly and become life-threatening, and cases that will remain latent without affecting the health of the patient. Another major clinical challenge is therapy resistance in advanced castration resistant PC (CRPC). There is an urgent need for a precision medicin approach in CRPC, which may be facilitated by the identification of actionable mutations in the tumor of each individual patient using genomic sequencing methods.

 

labwork

Biobanks

Since 2002, the prostate cancer research group has collaborated closely with the Department of Urology at Aarhus University Hospital, to collect biological samples from patients with PC.

Currently, our biobank holds samples from more than 2500 PC patients with full clinical follow-up information. We also have PC tissue microarrays with specimens from >800 PC patients, constructed in collaboration with the Department of Histopathology at Aarhus University Hospital.

Aim of Research

The primary aim of our research is to identify and develop new molecular markers for PC to increase the accuracy of diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of therapy response, and thereby pave the way for better personalized treatment. Our approach is translational, integrating clinical and basic studies with a clear focus on improving the diagnosis and treatment of PC.

Current Research Activities

Our research activities are aimed at the following overall goals:

  • Develop new and better diagnostic biomarkers for PC.
  • Develop novel PC aggressiveness (prognostic) markers.
  • Develop new clinically relevant, non/minimally invasive molecular diagnostic tests based on analyses of urine, blood, and biopsy samples.
  • Elucidation of the genetic basis for PC susceptibility (see PRACTICAL consortium )
  • Design and test new approaches for early PC detection in clinical trials (see ProCaRis II and PRIMA, both in Danish)
  • Study the biological role and biomarker potential of epigenomic and transcriptomic changes in PC.
  • Investigate the biological role and biomarker potential of non-coding RNAs in PC (miRNAs, circRNA, lncRNA, etc.)
  • Investigate the tumor microenvironment, molecular heterogeneity and clonal evolution of PC through all stages of disease.
  • Identify predictive biomarkers for therapy response in CRPC through liquid biopsy analyses, such as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) sequencing
  • Identify novel molecular mechanisms of therapy resistance in CRPC using genome-wide CRISPR screens.
  • Perform functional studies of key candidate genes, using state-of-the art technologies (RNAi/CRISPR) and preclinical PC models in vitro and in vivo.

Ultimately, these projects aim to facilitate the future implementation of personalized medicine for PC.

Large Projects

For more information, please see 

List of research projects for Karina Dalsgaard Sørensen (PURE)