NETRF announces $3.5 million in research grants to improve neuroendocrine tumor treatment

The Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF), Boston, MA, today announced $3.5 million in neuroendocrine tumor (NET) research grants to fund 12 projects around the world in pursuit of more precise treatments for this uncommon cancer affecting an estimated 171,000 Americans.

After investing $26 million in research during the past 15 years, NETRF has helped to establish the NET knowledge base needed to expand the exploration of improved treatments, according to Elyse Gellerman, NETRF chief executive officer. "We can see real momentum in this new round of grants. We hope the discoveries from these projects will lead to improved treatment options for patients."

NETRF is supporting a new pioneering approach to NET immunotherapy with a Petersen Accelerator Award to Steven Libutti, MD, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, to characterize a novel immune regulator called B7x to determine whether it has a role in shutting off the body's immune response to fight against pancreatic NETs.

This round of funding features multiple new fronts for NETRF. To help grow the NET scientific workforce, the Foundation granted two inaugural Mentored Awards for early career researchers, one of which was funded by an educational grant from Ipsen. There were also new areas of NET inquiry. For the first time, NETRF is funding pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma research, including an evaluation of a novel radiotracer for imaging adrenal NETs.

NETRF also funded four research projects in lung NETs, an area that has not previously received the attention of other NET sites. These lung studies include:

  • Conducting single-cell genomic analyses to understand how lung NETs form, grow, and spread.
  • Mapping the cellular networks of typical and atypical lung NETs to find biomarkers that help predict a tumor's aggressiveness.
  • Characterizing the molecular makeup of a newly identified, aggressive lung NET called "supra-carcinoid."
  • Determining the sociodemographic and geographic patterns of lung NETs in California.

Advances in NET research have been hampered by the lack of effective laboratory disease models, and a limited understanding of the molecular and genetic profiles of NETs. Now that we are making strong headway along these lines, we can finally begin to drill deeper with greater specificity, to identify and explore new strategies for treating NETs."

John Kanki, PhD, NETRF director of research

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