Grants - North Carolina - Designated Grants - 2016

Tian Zhang, M.D.

Funded by friends of TK and Virginia Wetherell

Metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) – prostate cancer which is resistant to androgen deprivation therapy – can be often aggressive and lethal. The androgen receptor (AR) has an important role in the disease course of prostate cancer, since both enzalutamide and abiraterone acetate improve overall survival by exerting effects on the AR pathway. Our preclinical data shows that AR can increase proteins that are needed maintaining copper balance, such as the copper transporter protein, which we found in prostate cancer samples. To take advantage of the copper biology in prostate cancer, we performed a “conditional lethal” screen for drugs that exert their cancer-killing effects based on the presence of copper. This screen identified disulfiram “Antabuse”, as a potential drug for prostate cancer. Antabuse has been tested before in prostate cancer but never in the presence of copper. Mouse models of prostate cancer have shown that those cancer masses can shrink when Antabuse is given along with copper. Therefore, we propose to study the combination of Antabuse and intravenous copper, to find the safety profile for this combination of drugs. In addition, we will study the copper uptake of these patients’ prostate cancers using a radiolabeled copper PET scan. These studies will allow us to see whether the baseline copper uptake of a patient’s prostate cancer is linked to their response on the combination of Antabuse and intravenous copper.