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Quillen researcher examining possible new treatment for bladder cancer

Contributed • Jan 24, 2020 at 5:26 PM

Dr. William Stone, a professor at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, is studying a new precision medicine approach to treating bladder cancer.

Stone, who is also director of pediatric research in Quillen’s Department of Pediatrics, received a Research Development Committee grant from ETSU to further his study of an enzyme called an esterase.

“A long time ago, some investigators found that patients with bladder cancer excrete an enzyme called an esterase and the levels of this enzyme could predict the occurrence of bladder cancer,” Stone said. “There are lots of esterases and no one has yet identified the one(s) in bladder cancer.”

Stone hypothesized the esterase found in bladder cancer is a specific enzyme called oxidized protein hydrolase. Since receiving the grant, he has confirmed this guess in bladder cancer cells and is moving forward with research to determine if a new prodrug he has developed will inhibit the growth of bladder cancer cells.

“This could be clinically important since we have a novel drug that is activated by this enzyme and can then selectively kill cancer cells,” Stone said. “That means we’re transitioning from a one-sized fits all kind of therapy (for) bladder cancer to precision oncology.”

In the United States, bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer resulting in at least 17,000 annual deaths, according to Stone. In men, it is the fourth most common cause of cancer.

Stone plans to apply for an expanded version of the grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research.

“The prime motivation for this project is the hope that it will eventually add to the body of knowledge helping people with bladder cancer,” Stone said. “Research is the way that medicine changes.”

To learn more about Quillen College of Medicine, visit www.etsu.edu/com

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