2017 Lung Cancer Research Foundation Annual Grant Program
Haichuan Hu, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Targeting the tumor microenvironment to enhance non-small cell lung cancer targeted therapy
Lung cancer tumors are not composed of tumor cells alone, but rather an integrated collection of both tumor and non-tumor cells (namely stromal cells). It has been increasingly recognized that there is constant “crosstalk” between these two major cell populations. A variety of signal molecules are released by each component and orchestrate different biological effects on each other. Such crosstalk consequently awakens alternative survival machinery in tumor cells and substantially compromises the efficacy of mainstream cancer therapies.
Deciphering and accordingly blocking intra-tumor crosstalk provides an enchanting yet rarely explored opportunity to enhance cancer therapies. Dr. Hu’s research aims to decode intra-tumor crosstalk by leveraging a novel approach that allows tumor and stromal cells from individual patients to grow side-by-side in a lab dish. That makes it possible for researchers to listen in on each cancer’s different conversations and tease out the relevant signals, informing the design of personalized pharmaceutical interventions.