Sonpavde receives award at European Multidisciplinary Meeting on Urological Cancer for prostate cancer research

emuc 2016Professors A. Necchi and M. Wirth with UAB's Guru Sonpavde receiving the award at the meeting in Milan. Guru Sonpavde, M.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Hematology and Oncology, was awarded the Best in Oral Presentation award at the 8th European Multidisciplinary Meeting on Urological Cancers in Milan, Italy. 

The award was for his research “Circulating tumor (ct)-DNA profiling for potentially actionable targets in prostate cancer,” which was selected from the top six abstracts from the meeting.  Sonpavde, director of Urologic Oncology at UAB, says the significance of this research is the noninvasive means of profiling tumor tissue. 

“You look at the changes in ct-DNA peripherally in the blood so that you can serially do it in patients. By doing this, you can potentially select patients for the right agent based on the alteration without an invasive biopsy,” Sonpavde said. “I think this has so much potential as we can learn a lot about the biology of the disease, the emerging mechanisms of resistance and new therapeutic targets.”

The inception for this research, for which he collaborated with and utilized the ctDNA profiling technology offered by Guardant Health, stems from Sonpavde’s interest in drug development and identifying new therapeutics targets.

“I’m also interested in improving the prognostic classification of patients adding molecular alterations to the clinical prognostic models,” he said. “Both interests and goals can be achieved by using ct-DNA profiling noninvasively. I think this has a lot of potential as opposed to biopsying a metastatic tumor, which is very difficult and invasive.”

Sonpavde, a scientist in the genitourinary oncology program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been extensively involved in research in the area of urologic cancers, which has led to several papers and presentations in major journals and conferences. Urologic cancers include cancers of the bladder, kidney, prostate, penis and testicles. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society, one out of every 10 men will develop the disease at some time in his life, most often after age 50.

Since coming to UAB in 2012, Sonpavde has been working toward bringing access to new cutting-edge clinical trials and promising anti-cancer drugs to patients with urologic cancers.

Sonpavde states that this research is just the first step. “We want to see the correlation of the alterations in the DNA with outcomes, like survival and time to progression. We also want to look at the activity of the drugs given to inhibit the alterations found. There is a long way to go to fully develop this modality.”