UC Irvine prostate cancer project awarded $1.2 million by precision medicine initiative

Clinical effort aims to personalize treatment, improve care and outcomes

November 15, 2016

UC Irvine health policy researchers have been awarded $1.2 million by the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine to develop more effective ways for prostate cancer patients and their physicians to customize treatment.

Sheldon Greenfield, MD, and Sherrie H. Kaplan, PhD, co-executive directors of UC Irvine’s Health Policy Research Institute, are leading the project. It was one of six funded today by the state initiative, which was created in 2015 to provide the infrastructure and resources necessary to advance precision medicine-oriented data, tools and applications in California.

"This grant represents an exciting opportunity to link patient-reported disease burden with tumor biomarkers to evaluate the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatment," said Greenfield, the Donald Bren Professor of Medicine at UC Irvine. “We envision that study results will help doctors and patients tailor treatment based on a composite picture of the patient’s illness, tumor biology and personal circumstances.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with more than 200,000 new U.S. cases diagnosed each year. It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in males and affects roughly 1 in 7 men over their lifetime.

The project is focused on improving risk predictions, including both the benefits and the potential harms of different treatment strategies for early-stage prostate cancer. Among the most pressing challenges facing physicians who care for men with prostate cancer is how to evaluate one’s potential benefit from treatment. As part of the two-year clinical study, prostate cancer patients will be given a detailed questionnaire that features 25 questions addressing myriad existing health issues that can help determine the aggressiveness of treatment.

Final prognosis will be based on detailed patient characteristics, such as sociodemographic factors, health status and disease management burden, combined with traditional prostate cancer severity indicators and established genomic identifiers.

Greenfield expects that 600 patients from five Southern California-area hospitals will be enrolled. Along with UC Irvine personnel, the team — which has had considerable prior experience collaborating on research projects — will include investigators and patients from UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and the VA Long Beach Healthcare System.

"Right now, the evidence supports treatment decisions for the average patient," Kaplan said. "This study will give doctors much better data on which to base recommendations for individual patients." She added that this approach will be applicable to other cancers and chronic diseases.

All six projects funded by the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine aim to promote customized healthcare by using data-driven tools and analysis to develop new diagnostics, therapies and insights into disease. The winning teams will join forces to use data across research, clinical, environmental and population health settings to better diagnose, treat, manage and prevent disease.

Projects based at UC Davis, UC San Francisco, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Sutter Health were also awarded grants.

The California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine was launched in 2015 by Gov. Jerry Brown and received additional funding in fiscal 2016-17. UC Health and UC San Francisco host the initiative with the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research.

For more information, please contact Tom Vasich at 949-824-6455 or tmvasich@uci.edu.