SU2C Scientific Research Teams
SU2C-LUNGevity American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team: Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging, & Molecular Evaluation (InTIME)
Avrum Spira, MD
Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Bioinformatics, and Director of the Boston University-Boston Medical Center (BU-BMC) Cancer Center
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Steven Dubinett, MD
Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, and Director of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine and the Clinical Translational Science Institute, University of California, Los Angeles
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“We plan to develop technology that can, in a very sensitive way, pick up the small amount of DNA that might be present in the blood of someone who’s harboring a lung cancer deep within their lung tissue – a non-invasive way of measuring a person’s risk of having lung cancer.”—Avrum Spira, MD, Dream Team Leader
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.