Priya N. Werahera, PhD

Priya N. Werahera, PhD

University of Colorado, Denver

Aurora, Colorado

Priya N. Werahera, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1994. His main research interests are biomedical imaging, optical spectroscopy, bioinstrumentation, computer modeling, and nanotechnologies for cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Dr. Werahera is a renowned leader in clinical translational research in prostate cancer diagnosis and therapy with over 20 years of experience. He developed a novel computer algorithm and methodology to create equivalent 3D computer models of human prostate specimens. One of his major accomplishments is the proof-of-concept work on template-guided transperineal mapping biopsy protocol to identify low-risk prostate cancer patients. He led the team of investigators that measured prostate tumor growth rates in humans to find out whether there is a difference in growth rates of latent versus aggressive prostate cancer. He proved that maximum tumor doubling times of latent and prostate tumors are not significantly different, as was previously thought. Dr. Werahera has prototyped a minimally invasive 16g optical biopsy needle capable of diagnosing prostate cancer with very high sensitivity and specificity by inserting an optical sensor at the tip of a biopsy needle (US patent). Dr. Werahera is a Co-Founder of Precision Biopsy Inc. Dr. Werahera has written 60+ peer-reviewed journal and conference publications. He is a Member of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and a Senior Member of the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Disclosures:

Talks by Priya N. Werahera, PhD

ExactVu™ Micro-Ultrasound for Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Priya N. Werahera, PhD, Research Associate Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, discusses the advantages of using the ExactVu micro-ultrasound platform to diagnose prostate cancer. First, he considers whether MRI imaging can be considered standard of care, arguing that it cannot be seen as such since many cancers are MRI-invisible, it is not cost effective, the technology remains in evolution, and there is high interobserver variability among radiologists. Dr. Werahera then turns to micro-ultrasound, explaining that the new ExactVu system is a 29 MHz machine which provides real-time imaging of prostate cancer lesions, has a high resolution of 70 microns, and can provide both lateral and axial resolution. He cites a meta-analysis which shows that micro-ultrasound is a relatively convenient and cost-effective method of real-time imaging which is highly sensitive in detecting clinically significant prostate cancer. Dr. Werahera then discusses a study at the University of Colorado comparing micro-ultrasound lesions vs. histopathology data of mapping biopsy which found that PRIMUS scores 4-5 have 100% sensitivity at the patient-level and 80% sensitivity at lesion-level for diagnosis of ≥ Gleason Grade 2 prostate cancer lesions. There were 2 undiagnosed Gleason Grade 2 lesions, both of which were small and located anteriorly. Dr. Werahera concludes that ExactVu micro-ultrasound has the potential to improve current imaging standards since it has comparable screening performance to MRI and comparable biopsy performance to MRI fusion, while also allowing for easier, more effective micro-ultrasound/MRI fusion. He also notes that ExactVu micro-ultrasound may enable widespread focal therapy due to its high accuracy in finding satellite lesions and lesion boundaries.

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Accuracy of ExactVu™ Micro-Ultrasound for Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Priya N. Werahera, PhD, Research Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, shares results from a study that compared ExactVu™ Micro-Ultrasound’s accuracy with that of mapping biopsy’s. He specifies that although more studies are needed to confirm these positive findings, this study has shown that the PRIMUS scoring system (similar to PIRADS) is consistent, and that there is potential clinical utility thanks to ExactVu’s™ ability to deliver real-time diagnoses and be used with or without MRI.

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Next Generation Sequencing of Microbiomes in Urine Samples of Prostate Cancer Patients

Priya N. Werahera, PhD, Associate Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, discusses the presence of bacteria in the prostrate and that next generation sequencing is the best way to identify microbial DNA in post DRE urine samples. He reveals that cutibacterium acnes strain Type II is the most prevalent bacteria found in PCa patients. Finegoldia magna produces equol and is associated with lower risks of prostate cancer. It is still unclear whether a malignant tumor creates an ideal environment for infection, or if a bacterial infection precedes a carcinoma.

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TRUS Biopsy, MRI, and PROMIS Trial

John W. Davis, MD, discusses the lack of consensus regarding the definitions and benefits of focal therapy for prostate cancer. He defines the patients who would benefit most from focal therapy, as well as overcoming current challenges in this approach.

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