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The Mark Foundation Awards $6 Million Grant for Lung Cancer Research


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Waun Ki Hong, MD

Waun Ki Hong, MD

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research has awarded a 3-year $6 million grant to support a new phase of discovery for a team of investigators developing, optimizing, and integrating targeted therapies and immunotherapies to improve outcomes for patients with the most common—and most difficult to treat—lung cancers. The award is granted in memory of personalized medicine pioneer Waun Ki Hong, MD.

The team originally launched its collaborative effort in 2015 as a Stand Up to Cancer/American Cancer Society dream team. Principal investigators Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Alice Shaw, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital; and Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will lead the team in new research, building upon the previous successes.

Understanding KRAS-Mutation Targeting

A major aim of the project will be to achieve a deeper understanding of the biology of a new class of drugs that inhibit the activity of KRAS mutations. By uncovering the mechanisms by which these drugs act and the effects they have in tumors with other genetic alterations, these preclinical studies will help physicians determine how best to utilize these therapies independently and in combination with other agents. The team will also explore other biologic pathways regulated by mutant KRAS, as well as cellular processes that allow tumors to resist KRAS-targeted drugs, with the ultimate goal of designing optimal combination therapies to circumvent tumor resistance and recurrence.

Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD

Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD

Alice Shaw, MD, PhD

Alice Shaw, MD, PhD

Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD

Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD

Another major aim of the project will be the collection and comprehensive analysis of samples from patients with lung cancer, treated with immunotherapies at the multiple institutions involved in this grant. With funding from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, the team will expand its collection of patient genomic and immune-profile information to include samples from patients before and during treatment, as well as from recipients of immunotherapy combinations, with the goals of determining the molecular changes caused by treatment and identifying changes tumors develop that

Ben Greenbaum, PhD

Ben Greenbaum, PhD

Marta Lusksza, PhD

Marta Lusksza, PhD

render treatments ineffective in some patients. The team will be joined by The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research grantee Ben Greenbaum, PhD, and Marta Lusksza, PhD, of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Icahn School of Medicine, who will create new analytic platforms to integrate the data and probe how tumors evolve genetically in ways that may lead to better or worse patient responses to treatment. 


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