The main goals of Dr. Ricke's laboratory are to find ways to cure or prevent clinically relevant urological abnormalities including prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and bladder outlet obstruction. To accomplish these goals a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying these conditions must be achieved. Elucidation of the pathways involved in these diseases will provide insight for determining the appropriate therapeutic compound for preclinical and ultimately clinical testing.
Most organs consist of 2 main tissue layers comprised of various cell types: epithelial cells (functional cells) and stromal cells (supporting cells). In diseases such as prostate cancer, epithelial cells develop into cancer, whereas stromal cells are seemingly unaffected. Hence the biomedical community has focused primarily on epithelial cells to better understand pathways involved in carcinogenesis. Consequently, little is known about the role of stroma in disease progression or how epithelial cells and stromal cells communicate with one another during the manifestation of disease. Understanding how these two tissue layers interact during disease progression may hold the key to understanding the processes involved in lower urinary tract abnormalities and to therapies aimed to prevent or cure them.
In most solid cancers epithelial cells grow uncontrollably, ultimately leading to metastasis and mortality. Until recently the role of stromal cells has been thought to play a passive role in cancer progression. However recent research has demonstrated that stromal cells play a necessary role in cancer progression. This suggests that stromal cells may be an important therapeutic target. Since stromal tissues are genetically stable, relative to cancerous epithelial cells, therapies directed toward the stroma may be more effective and longer lasting. Through our research, we have effectively discovered new and essential mechanisms involved in disease progression and our preclinical studies have demonstrated that we can effectively prevent the disease progression. Future studies will evaluate the role of these therapies in a clinical setting.
The Ricke lab is currently working in 4 areas of research.
1. The role of sex hormones and the tumor-microenvironment in prostate cancer progression
2. Evaluation of environmental factors in prostate cancer progression, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and bladder outlet obstruction
3. Identification of biomarkers for aggressive vs. indolent prostate cancer
4. The role of dietary and environmental factors in the development and prevention of diseases in the lower urogenital tract
2009 Feb 27
Ball LJ, Levy N, Zhao X, Griffin C, Tagliaferri M, Cohen I, Ricke WA, Speed TP, Firestone GL, Leitman DC. "Cell type- and estrogen receptor-subtype specific regulation of selective estrogen receptor modulator regulatory elements." Molecular and cellular endocrinology. 2009 Feb 27; 299(2):204-11. Epub 2008 Nov 18.
2008 Aug 26
Niu Y, Altuwaijri S, Lai KP, Wu CT, Ricke WA, Messing EM, Yao J, Yeh S, Chang C. "Androgen receptor is a tumor suppressor and proliferator in prostate cancer." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States
of America. 2008 Aug 26; 105(34):12182-7. Epub 2008 Aug 22.
Ricke WA, McPherson SJ, Bianco JJ, Cunha GR, Wang Y, Risbridger GP. "Prostatic hormonal carcinogenesis is mediated by in situ estrogen production and estrogen receptor alpha signaling." The FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of
American Societies for Experimental Biology. 2008 May 0; 22(5):1512-20. Epub 2007 Nov 30.
2008 Feb 13
Mersereau JE, Levy N, Staub RE, Baggett S, Zogovic T, Zogric T, Chow S, Ricke WA, Tagliaferri M, Cohen I, Bjeldanes LF, Leitman DC. "Liquiritigenin is a plant-derived highly selective estrogen receptor beta agonist." Molecular and cellular endocrinology. 2008 Feb 13; 283(1-2):49-57. Epub 2007 Nov 26.
Ricke WA, Wang Y, Cunha GR. "Steroid hormones and carcinogenesis of the prostate: the role of estrogens." Differentiation; research in biological diversity. 2007 Nov 0; 75(9):871-82. Epub 2007 Oct 09.