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AACR 2024: NextGen Star Abhijit Parolia presents on new protein that drives prostate cancer progression

Date Visible: 
04/10/2024 - 2:00pm

Media contact: Anna Megdell, 734-764-2220 |  Patients may contact Cancer AnswerLine™ 800-865-1125

Abhijit Parolia, M.S., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and urology at the University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center, was named at NextGen Star by the American Association of Cancer Research. The award honors outstanding early-career scientists and offers awardees a platform to share their research at the 2024 AACR Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. 

The presentation focused on NSD2, a new protein Parolia identified that drives prostate cancer progression. His lab found that NSD2 is not only abnormally elevated in prostate tumors but is only found in cancer cells and not expressed in normal tissue. Furthermore, NSD2 refigures androgen receptor, the central driver of prostate cancer, causing it to bind to cancer-specific genomic sites and thus impart aggressive disease characteristics. These findings position NSD2 as a possible target for therapy.  

For Parolia, this research signifies a considerable advance in understanding the inner workings of tissue specific molecular machineries and how they get hijacked by cancer specific mechanisms to fuel cancer growth. “Androgen receptor is not a classical oncogene. It rarely gets altered in the primary prostatic tumor. In fact, its normal function should inhibit tumor growth, but we know that is not the case,” Parolia explained. “We’ve known androgen receptor gets reprogrammed to gain cancerous duties, and this is the first explanation of how that molecularly happens with activation of foreign proteins. It was a black box until this point.”

Parolia’s lab at Rogel started just this year, and the NextGen Star award draws special attention to the work he and his team are doing. “It’s reassuring that some of these ideas are relevant and may be at a place where people find merit in where they could lead,” Parolia said. “It’s very gratifying to receive this recognition.”