Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and worldwide, in large part due to our inability to intercept the disease before it progresses to an advanced stage. To address this problem, we have assembled a multidisciplinary Dream Team that brings together the diverse and unique expertise needed to transform lung cancer interception and prevention. Our collaborative team unites scientists and clinicians from many fields of lung cancer research, from prevention through early detection and treatment. Together, we will use state-of-the-art technologies, many developed within our team, to understand genetics, immunology, radiological imaging, and treatment response, of patients who show evidence of abnormal lung tissue that puts them at high risk of developing lung cancer.
Our team has organized unique groups of patient populations with signs of lung cancer risk and has assembled a collection of blood and tissue specimens from these patients. With our innovative technologies and unique patient populations, our research team will seek to understand how early lung cancer develops and will test methods to block this development, using three complementary approaches:
First, we will create a molecular atlas of pre-cancer of the lung. These studies will identify which types of precancerous lung tissue require aggressive treatment and which treatments will block the development of these abnormal lesions to invasive lung cancer.
Second, we will develop two diagnostic tools that can be directly applied in the clinic for simple, yet accurate, detection of early lung cancer: 1) Nasal swabs, blood samples and radiological imaging to confirm whether lung abnormalities found on chest imaging are lung cancer or benign lung disease. This is an urgent need, because although the number of lung abnormalities detected is increasing, the majority of these events do not represent lung cancer; therefore, this diagnostic will ensure that patients without lung cancer will avoid unnecessary and invasive testing procedures. 2) Blood tests that can identify patients at the earliest stages of lung cancer recurrence thus enabling their timely and effective intervention with therapies such as those that boost the immune system.
Third, we will develop tests to identify which individuals are most likely to benefit from a number of treatment strategies to intercept lung cancer, including emerging immunotherapies. The insights gained from our research will enable the medical, research and patient communities to make major strides in their attempts to thwart lung cancer before it occurs. Ultimately, we aspire to make it possible for every person at risk for lung cancer to have a personalized interception approach.
Julie Brahmner, MD, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
Sanjiv “Sam” Gambhir, MD, PhD, Stanford University
Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, Harvard University and Dana-Farber Cancer Center
Charles Swanton, MBBS, Francis Crick Institute and Cancer Research UK