Colorectal cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related death in the United States, with 50,260 deaths from the disease anticipated to occur in 2017. Patients can be effectively treated when the tumor is detected and removed early; however, most patients are diagnosed when the disease has spread outside the colon or rectum. Five-year relative survival rates are particularly poor for patients with metastatic disease, and novel therapies are urgently needed to fight this deadly disease.
To tackle this problem, this SU2C-Colorectal Cancer Dream Team has assembled renowned experts in the field of colorectal cancer research, spanning all aspects of translational science and medicine. This team will focus on three complementary areas of research that have the potential to impact all stages of colorectal cancer, from the pre-malignant lesion to patients suffering from metastatic disease. The emphasis of the first two areas of research is on the potential of immunotherapy and targeted therapy to revolutionize the treatment of colorectal cancer, while the last area of study will evaluate strategies to target different colorectal cancer subtypes specifically.
Over the past decade, targeted therapy and immunotherapy have revolutionized the treatment of many cancer types. However, these approaches have yet to make a substantial impact for colorectal cancer. The key factors underlying the limited efficacy of targeted and immunotherapies in colorectal cancer have recently been elucidated, creating an unprecedented opportunity to effectively optimize and integrate these two powerful therapeutic approaches to develop novel treatments for colorectal cancer patients. This Dream Team will first determine the molecular determinants of resistance to immunotherapies. With this information, they will devise new strategies to overcome the resistance. Similarly, they will determine the molecular adaptations responsible for the resistance of colorectal cancer cells to targeted therapies, and formulate novel approaches to counteract the resistance. This will include developing new therapies involving combinations of drugs, both targeted agents and immune agents.
These studies will also inform the development of “Precision Prevention” strategies for colorectal cancer, with prevention referring to the treatment of early pre-malignant disease and prevention of disease recurrence following curative therapy. As part of this approach, the team will conduct an innovative precision medicine-guided adjuvant trial that has the potential to revolutionize the treatment for early stage colorectal cancer.
By leveraging the potential synergy between their different therapeutic avenues, the Dream Team believes that more frequent and durable treatment responses for patients will emerge, enhancing the lives of people suffering from this terrible disease