Lung Cancer Center Of Excellence And Lung SPORE
“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women,” says Eric Haura, M.D.
, director of Moffitt’s Lung Cancer Center of Excellence
and Lung SPORE. “Florida is second, next to California, in numbers of new cases of lung cancer annually.” Dr. Haura also leads Moffitt’s Experimental Therapeutics Program.
SPORE stands for Specialized Programs of Research Excellence
, and it is an important grant program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
. For more than five years, the NCI has awarded Moffitt researchers more than $10 million to perform extensive research aimed at discovering more about the biology of lung cancer as well as developing and testing new treatments.
According to Dr. Haura, the Lung Cancer Center of Excellence is highly focused on a two-pronged therapeutic approach to lung cancer. The first employs molecular targeted therapy with an increased focus on systems proteomics to identify personalized and rational combinations of therapy to maximize chances of cure.
“Molecularly targeted therapy is highly effective for well-defined varieties of lung cancer,” explains Dr. Haura. “With the introduction of molecular profiling that can quickly identify molecular ‘driver’ mutations, efforts at targeted drug therapy are rapidly improving.”
Supported by the Moffitt SPORE in Lung Cancer, researchers use mass spectrometry-based proteomics to identify the activity of these targets in lung cancer. Proteomic studies reveal insights into signaling pathways active in lung cancer cells involving several kinases – enzymes that act on and modify the activity of specific proteins that transmit signals and control complex processes in cells. These are enabling new clinical trials and innovative strategies to profile lung cancer.
The second approach is to harness the immune system to recognize and eliminate lung cancer. A number of laboratory studies and translational clinical trials are realizing this opportunity in part supported by the SPORE. This includes novel vaccines to stimulate the immune system, antibody-based therapy to re-engage T-cell-mediated killing of tumor cells and new approaches to target suppressive factors in the tumor microenvironment that hampers immune killing of cancer.