POTTSBURGH — A little over a year after his lab rat was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Justin R. Krieger, a former college basketball player, is still in the midst of his battle with prostate disease.
Krieser is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Kriege Laboratories, an independent biotechnology company based in Pittsburgh.
He said he doesn’t consider his work with his own lab rat a personal hobby.
“The goal is not to be a celebrity,” he said.
“It’s to do science.”
Krieger and his colleagues have been conducting a massive study to understand the biological impact of urine on prostate cancer.
They found that the prostate gland is more susceptible to a variety of infections and is less likely to grow into tumors.
They also found that urine is more effective at blocking the growth of tumors.
“The research was really good, and the data is really, really strong,” Kriegers said.
He said the data also shows that urine also protects against cancer cells.
The research, which Krieers and his team published in the journal PNAS last month, has garnered widespread attention.
And his research is also generating more money for Krieges team of scientists and patients.
Kriegers has raised $6.5 million in private investment from a variety to help fund their research.
Krieges research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
He said the federal government has paid for most of his equipment and facilities.
“This is not a small project, but it’s really quite impressive,” Kriesers said.
“We have a lot of equipment.
We have a large laboratory, we have a small lab and we have very large labs.”
Krieser said he’s spent the past six years on the quest to understand how urine works in the prostate and how it affects cancer.
The results of the research will eventually help doctors and patients better understand the cause of prostate cancer and the treatments that might prevent it, Krieer said.
A study published in October found that men who were in remission from prostate cancer had a 40 percent greater risk of developing prostate cancer when they returned to regular urine, compared to those who were not.
That finding is important because patients with prostate-specific antigen, a genetic marker that is elevated in patients with the disease, have a much higher risk of cancer, according to the U-M study.
Kayser said the prostate is like a sponge.
“We’re constantly pumping urine through it,” he told ABC News.
“If you take too much, it just fills the pipe up, and that’s the same as if you just had a bunch of plastic,” he added.
“You don’t want that to happen.”
The research has also provided important information for the U.-M researchers, Krieses co-director of the U of M College of Medicine, who said the research is not limited to urine.
“What is important is how much we’re able to study urine, because we need to know what happens in the urine of people who are not in remission, what happens when they’re in remission and what happens if you go back to normal urine, and then what we can do to prevent that,” Kaysers said.
“I don’t think it’s a waste of a lot, if anything, if we know more about what’s going on in the body.”
Dr. Richard B. Jones, professor of dermatology and a co-author of the study, said that it was important for researchers to know how urine changes the makeup of the prostate.
“What we’re really interested in is whether we can identify specific things in urine that could protect against cancer,” he noted.
The researchers are also looking into how urine and prostate tissue interact and what the impact of this may be.
“There is a great deal of variability in urine and the tissue in the male prostate, and this is something that we are looking at as a part of the understanding of how urine might affect the cancer risk,” Jones said.
He added that researchers need to find out if they can mimic the effects of urine in humans in order to better understand prostate cancer in a laboratory setting.