The research interests of Charles Y. Young, Ph.D., focus on molecular mechanisms of hormone action via nuclear receptors as well as those of cytoskeletal-associated proteins on proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of normal and cancerous prostate cells. Dr. Young's research also emphasizes the study of mechanisms by which naturally occurring compounds, synthetic compounds or both effect the chemoprevention or chemotherapy of prostate cancer. Lastly, through molecular biology and proteomic approaches, Dr. Young works to discover genes that may be used as tools for the detection and treatment of prostate cancer.
- Growth and differentiation of prostatic cells. Androgens, retinoic acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and thyroid hormone are essential factors for growth and differentiation of prostatic cells. Dr. Young uses the promoters of prostate-specific genes as models to understand the interactions of these hormones and vitamins via their nuclear receptors. Specifically, he looks at the molecular mechanisms controlling gene expression and cell growth activities in the prostate and prostate cancer.
- Natural compounds for prevention and therapy of prostate cancer. Several naturally occurring substances, especially phytochemicals — such as tea and neem compounds — and polyunsaturated fatty acids and metabolites, have been investigated for their chemopreventive effects on prostate cancer. In vitro and in vivo systems are used to elucidate the mechanism by which these compounds inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.
- Prostate cancer gene discovery. Molecular biology (for example, subtraction cloning and microarray), genomics and proteomics (high resolution two-dimensional electrophoresis in conjunction with mass spectrometry-based amino acid sequencing and software-based analysis) technologies are used in the lab with assistance of Mayo Clinic core facilities to discover relevant genes, including novel genes, for prostate cancer.
Significance to patient care
First, Dr. Young's research can be used to develop more-sensitive, more-specific and less invasive means for early detection, diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. Second, through the gene discovery project, specific genes and cellular processing pathways preferentially used in prostate cancer cells may be defined, which, in turn, can be used as targets for cancer prevention and treatment purposes.