Detecting a prostate cancer culprit

Aaron LeBeau

Although prostate cancer is often successfully treated by surgery, some men develop a metastatic form of the cancer—called CRPC-NE (castration-resistant prostate cancer with neuroendocrine features)—that is resistant to current therapies and incurable.

Aaron LeBeau, Ph.D., a pharmacology faculty member and beneficiary of Masonic support, is dedicated to stopping this type of prostate cancer. He’s especially interested in the role of a protein called PEG10, which occurs only in CRPC-NE.

LeBeau and his team believe that PEG10 could be a prime target for prostate cancer treatments and are developing a powerful new imaging technique to detect the protein. Their goal is to determine the exact location of the drug-resistant cells that make PEG10 so that tumors can be targeted and destroyed with external beam radiation therapy.

LeBeau’s team has tested their imaging approach in a mouse model of prostate cancer and are preparing to move ahead with studies in more complex organisms. If successful, their discoveries could give new hope to men with a type of prostate cancer that is currently untreatable and uniformly lethal. That, says LeBeau, is a “very exciting prospect.”

“Without philanthropic support, nothing would ever get done—I could not buy supplies or employ people. My grandfather was a Mason and my uncle is an active Mason, too. That makes receiving funding from Minnesota Masonic Charities extra cool.”