Dr. John Lewis

Frank and Carla Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation

Department of Oncology

Division of Experimental Oncology
    Contact details are for academic matters only.

About Me

Translational Prostate Cancer Research Group
We study prostate cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian men. Our goal is to foster an environment where scientists, doctors and clinical researchers work together to address key challenges in prostate cancer care. As a team, we hope to accelerate the transfer of research discoveries from the "bench to the bedside" to make an impact on those living with cancer.

To achieve this, we recognize the importance of training future researchers with the skills to work on the threshold between discovery and applied research. This is facilitated by regular multidisciplinary team meetings to discuss research projects, new innovations and clinical trials.

Our research program is supported by public funds and fundraised dollars, and much of the progress we've made to date would not have been possible without this support. Members of the group are actively involved in community outreach activities, and we regularly attend community awareness and fundraising events to share the good news stories of our research efforts.

Whether new discoveries begin at the bedside or the bench, our group is focused on understanding and ultimately curing aggressive prostate cancer.

Alberta Prostate Cancer Research Initiative (APCaRI)
APCaRI brings together a multi-disciplinary team of prostate cancer scientists, physicians, patients, healthcare employees and an international collaborative network together to positively impact the outcomes and quality of life of those living with prostate cancer by accelerating the translation of new research ideas from the laboratory to the clinic.


The Lewis lab utilizes real-time intravital imaging of the tumour microenvironment to learn about the critical steps of cancer progression, including the growth of new blood vessels and the gain of tumour cell motility that leads to metastasis. We are investigating novel nanoparticles that are being developed for the early detection of prostate cancer, drug delivery, and the in vivo study of tumour cell invasion and metastasis. Connecting these intimately related projects is an integrated research platform that we've developed for long term time-lapse intravital imaging of human cancer progression.

Homing in on cancer: platforms for targeted imaging and drug delivery
Nanoparticles are a novel class of agents that take advantage of innovative advances in nanotechnology for the development of therapeutics, vaccines and imaging tools. In 2006, we were the first to describe nanoparticles based on the plant virus Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) as tools for intravital vascular imaging, and we have since developed a complementary platform for screening nanoparticle formulations in human tumour xenografts. We and others have described the attachment of a variety of functional groups to viruses and other nanoparticles, and have been working in recent years to adapt this platform for prostate cancer imaging and drug delivery. Several nanoparticle platforms under development are promising candidates for the development of prostate cancer imaging and therapeutic agents.


Cancer metastasis: strategies to detect and block the spread of cancer

Like other cancers, prostate cancer becomes deadly when it spreads, or metastasizes. We have been interested for some time in learning more about the genes and proteins that cause prostate cancer to spread. With our collaborators, we have recently shown that tetraspanin CD151-specific monoclonal antibody 1A5 prevents metastasis by inhibiting tumour cell intravasation. We have begun to evaluate the ability of this CD151 antibody to predict the development of metastatic prostate disease from patient biopsies. We would like in the short-term to develop a better test for prostate cancer that accurately predicts its spread, and in the long term to develop new drugs to block metastasis completely. We hope that these advances will make a significant impact on those living with prostate cancer.

Research Support

Alberta Cancer Foundation
Bird Dogs for Prostate Cancer Research
Prostate Cancer Canada
Alberta Innovates Health Solutions
Motorcycle Ride for Dad
National Institutes of Health (USA)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Canadian Foundation for Innovation
Canadian Cancer Society

Research Keywords

angiogenesis, cancer, ghrelin, imaging, metastasis, nanoparticles, prostate cancer