Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Alice Berger, PhD
Novel strategies for therapeutic target discovery in lung cancer
Recent advances in understanding the human genome have led to successful new "precision oncology" for the treatment of lung cancer, such as the use of EGFR-targeted therapies in EGFR-mutant lung cancer. The discovery and application of these therapies has motivated a continued search for novel drug targets in these and other lung cancers. The foundation of these searches are high-throughput methods for genetic screening. However, traditional target discovery experiments can only query a single gene’s involvement in cancer. Some genes with redundant functions would not be identified in these traditional studies. The goal of this project is to identify genetically redundant genes in the human genome and to identify gene pairs that are required for resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies.
This work will directly help the tens of thousands of patients with EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer. Increasingly, genomic information leads to “repurposing” of drugs developed for other diseases. If drugs already exist for some of the targets that are identified in our study, they can be repurposed for lung cancer therapy, and our work could positively impact lung cancer patients in less than five years. If therapies do not already exist, our work will provide the preliminary evidence that these genes/proteins would be worth investment from pharmaceutical companies, thereby serving a vital role of academic research and promoting the development of new lung cancer therapies.