Researchers awarded $250,000 grant to study tumor microenvironment in lung cancer

Fueling exploration by investigators who collaborate under a research consortium partnership as recognized by the National Cancer Institute, between Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Princeton University, the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer has awarded $250,000 toward the identification and development of novel strategies to address treatment resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The Van Auken Private Foundation Young Innovators Team Award from the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer will support the work of Rutgers Cancer Institute researcher 'Jessie' Yanxiang Guo, PhD, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; and Shawn Davidson, PhD, a Lewis-Sigler Institute Fellow in the Molecular Biology Department at Princeton University who is also a Rutgers Cancer Institute researcher.

Between 85 to 90 percent of lung cancers are NSCLC, and mutations in the RAS protein family – including KRAS – are often detected in this type of cancer. Patients harboring the KRAS mutation develop more aggressive tumors, show a high frequency of cancer spread and have limited treatment options, since KRAS-mutant NSCLC doesn't respond to most treatments.

Drs. Guo and Davidson, who are both members of Rutgers Cancer Institute's Cancer Metabolism and Growth Research Program, believe that cancer cell metabolism impacts the tumor microenvironment and function, thus leading to an impaired anti-tumor immune response. They are examining the metabolism of different cell types in a KRAS-mutant lung tumor environment and are targeting tumor metabolism in order to improve the response of immunotherapy for patients with KRAS mutations. The aim is to develop strategies to overcome immunotherapy treatment resistance in this type of lung cancer.

The award period runs through November 2021.

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