TAMPA, Fla. – The National Cancer Institute has awarded the Lung Cancer Metabolism Working Group at Moffitt Cancer Center with a Research Program Project Grant (P01CA250984). The grant, which will provide more than $10.2 million over five years, will support team research across several Moffitt programs, including Cancer Biology and Evolution, Molecular Medicine and Immuno-Oncology. All projects will focus on investigating lung cancer metabolism.

Moffitt’s program project consists of four projects and four shared cores. The goal is to unveil common metabolic mechanisms regulated by common genetic drivers across non-small cell lung cancer, specifically lung adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and small cell lung cancer. Researchers will then use that information to utilize standard of care therapeutics or develop new therapies that can target the common molecular signatures.

“Many of the driver genes mutated in lung cancer, like p53, Nrf2 and myc, are transcription factors, which are difficult to target therapeutically and have been deemed ‘undruggable.’ But by learning more about the cancer metabolism and how malignant cells are rewiring their metabolic network to survive, we can develop novel therapies to target those rewired cells while preserving the integrity of normal surrounding tissues,” said Elsa Flores, Ph.D., principal investigator for this grant, chair of the Department of Molecular Oncology and leader of the Cancer Biology and Evolution Program.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. There are two types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for roughly 80% to 85% of cases, and small cell lung cancer, which has been classified by the NCI as a recalcitrant tumor – a type of cancer with a five-year relative survival rate of less than 50%.

Common therapy for both lung cancer types includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. These treatments can be debilitating for patients, and for those treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation, healthy surrounding tissue can be harmed. Although immunotherapy has improved lung cancer outcomes, it only works for a small subset of patients.

“We see about 1,800 new lung cancer patients each year in our thoracic clinic. We are seeing what works and what doesn’t. We know improvements can be made to appropriately apply standard of care treatments and even develop new, more targeted therapies, but first we need to further our understanding of the basic biology of lung cancer disease progression. These four projects will help our team do just that,” said Eric Haura, M.D., co-principal investigator of the grant, associate center director of Clinical Science and director of the Lung Cancer Center of Excellence.

Preliminary data for this project was supported by Moffitt’s Lung Cancer Center of Excellence and Miles for Moffitt.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is the No. 11 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 7,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

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