Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have recently announced at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the establishment of a $20 million “Dream Team” to fight lung cancer, the number one cancer killer in America.
The ACS estimates that 221,000 Americans will receive a lung and bronchus cancer diagnosis in 2015, and that 158,040 will die because of the disease; this will make lung cancer the number one cause of cancer deaths in both women and men.
The project is named “Targeting KRAS Mutant Lung Cancer,” and it will include scientists from eight leading institutions. Jeffrey A. Engelman, from Harvard Medical School will be the leader of the Dream Team and Jedd Wolchok from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York will serve as the co-leader.
“Mutations in the KRAS gene are found in 20 to 25 percent of lung cancer patients. Drugs targeting mutated KRAS pathways in other cancers are being developed. We plan to use them in combination with immunotherapies to have a dramatic impact on patient outcomes,” said Engelman.
Additionally, immunological approaches that have had success in the past against cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer will be used as well.
“We will combine targeted drug therapies with immunotherapy. We will apply immunological approaches to lung cancer in combination with targeted therapies, and we think this combined approach can bring about durable, long-term remissions,” noted Wolchok.
Phillip A. Sharp from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Nobel laureate who is also the chairman of SU2C’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) explained: “The time is ripe for a new attack on lung cancer, especially given recent advances in cancer immunology and immunotherapy We have a real chance to make headway against this terrible disease.”
The Team will work to define the more powerful therapies to target KRAS and related biological pathways, target the immune system to address KRAS mutant lung cancers, and integrate immunotherapies with targeted therapies for these lung cancers.
“This Dream Team is an unrivaled group of experts on KRAS and immunological therapeutic approaches. They have been at the forefront of developing new, targeted therapies specifically designed for KRAS mutant lung cancers and ways to harness the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. We are confident that their approach will lead to novel therapies that will markedly improve outcomes for patients with KRAS mutant lung cancer,” said Sung Poblete.
“Lung cancer is not only one of the most commonly diagnosed and lethal cancers in the U.S., but one of the most difficult to treat — and this escalating unmet medical need continues to demand new innovations in the way we treat the disease. Immuno-oncology research is showing great promise to potentially improve survival for lung cancer patients, and we are proud to support Stand Up to Cancer on this endeavor,” stated Joseph Leveque from Bristol-Myers Squibb.