Dr. Melanie A Simpson
Susan J. Rosowski Professor of Biochemistry
N246 Beadle Center
Research Area: Prostate cancer; early regulation of tumor formation; extracellular control of gene expression
Research OverviewProstate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men and the second leading cause of male cancer death. Our lab is studying molecular mechanisms that contribute to advanced prostate cancer, which is very difficult to treat. We have several ongoing projects that use a combination of biochemical and cell culture techniques, as well as mouse models of tumor growth and metastasis. Our goal is to address specific mechanistic questions about aggressive growth and spread of prostate cancer.
Normal cell proliferation within the prostate is dependent on androgen hormones, which are provided by the testes and converted to a more potent form within prostate epithelial cells. Most prostate cancer is thought to originate among the luminal epithelial cells when genetic or physical insults induce changes to the cells and/or their microenvironment that permit inappropriate proliferation. Progression occurs when tumor cells become able to manipulate their local environment by remodeling the extracellular space. Cancerous cells may invade the lymphatic system and/or the bloodstream, and colonize other tissues. Localized prostate cancer has a number of treatment options and high treatment success, but there are many questions that need to be answered to combat advanced cancer. Several key issues our research seeks to address include tissue remodeling by the tumor cells, hormone elimination versus sequestration in tumor cells, and molecular changes that influence metastatic potential.