The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) will fund two collaborative studies with $6 million and $4.6 million grants, for research targeting critical issues in lung cancer (LC) to be conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The awarded grants, designed to support research teams from several Texas-based institutions, were announced after approval by a CPRIT Oversight Committee. Both awarded projects are part of MD Anderson’s Lung Cancer Moon Shot program.
One of the grants, worth $6 million, will focus on the definition and defeat of LCs caused by KRAS gene mutations – a type of LC that accounts for nearly 25% of all non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Currently, KRAS mutations cannot be directly treated. Leading the project will be Dr. Jonathan Kurie, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology.
The other $4.6 million grant will fund the work of the lead investigator Dr. Ignacio Wistuba, isChair of Translational Molecular Pathology. Wistuba will study LC pathogenesis and early progression while addressing the diversity of genomic alterations in lung tumors.
The Moon Shots Program aims to reduce the number of deaths caused by LC, by expediting the development of innovative treatments, prevention programs, and early detection screenings based on scientific evidence.
“Our Moon Shots Program is designed to swiftly advance life-saving innovations, and CPRIT funding helps us address crucial issues in reducing mortality from the most lethal of cancers,” said MD Anderson’s president Dr. Ronald A. DePinho, in a press release. “We are proud our experts received the only multi-investigator research projects awarded by CPRIT during this review term. This is a testament to the quality of our science as well as our collaborative team culture.”
CPRIT recognizes the importance of the grants given to the projects which are already considered milestones. In addition, the MD Anderson Cancer Center will receive a high-impact and high-risk grant of $200,000 to target a leukemia-specific type of mutation. Further details will be released soon.
Since 2009 – when the agency was established after voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 bond issue committing $3 billion to end cancer – CPRIT has awarded$1.57 billion toward 1,033 research grants.