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KGI Professor Animesh Ray Granted Funding by the Department of Defense for Research on Lung Cancer Drug Resistance
Date:6/17/2016

The Department of Defense has recently approved funding for Dr. Animesh Ray’s research proposal titled “A novel approach to understand and prevent the evolution of drug resistant lung cancer cells: A feasibility study.” The study, which will focus on lung cancer drug resistance, aims to examine the emergence of therapy resistant forms of lung cancer using state-of-the-art advances in genomic technology.

The re-emergence of drug resistant lung cancers in patients who initially responded to the therapy is a major cause of death. While many lung cancer patients who exhibit the spread of cancer to other parts of the body do respond well to treatment with anti-cancer drugs, it has been documented that the cancer can return aggressively, having developed resistance to the drug(s) used to treat the original cancers. There is an urgent need to understand and prevent such re-emergence of drug resistant cancers.

Elaborating on the scope of this project, Dr. Ray said: “When lung cancers are targeted with an anti-cancer drug, the genome of the cancer cells, due to their robustness, can find ways to become resistant to drugs. The current research proposal aims to use next-generation DNA sequence technology coupled with CRISPR technology to address this problem. The hope is that this preliminary work will help discover a new approach to prevent the appearance of relapsed drug resistant cancer.”

The study will use an alternate paradigm for drug development, which aims to target and prevent the adaptation of cancer cells to drugs, with the goal to undercut the major factor for death related to lung cancer. This novel approach will include the use of a recently developed genome-wide gene-targeting technology coupled with massively parallel DNA sequencing, followed by computational modeling. If successful, this project’s findings should ultimately benefit patients who have been treated for metastatic lung cancers and who are the among the most vulnerable lung cancer patients to succumb to the disease; included among them are numerous veterans of the armed forces.

According to Dr. Ray, it is anticipated that these experiments, if successful, can lead to a new paradigm of cancer treatment, in which a novel class of drugs with relatively low toxicity can be developed (drugs that do not by themselves target a cancer cell’s ability to survive, but will target the adaptive strategies of drug-treated cancer cells). The major benefit is that these drugs are expected to be less toxic than current anti-cancer drugs. This proposal is an important step towards developing lung cancer treatment, in that it is the first articulation of this novel concept of cancer drug development.

The official funding start date for this study is June 15, 2016.

Dr. Ray has been a professor at KGI for 15 years. He noted that throughout his career he has always been interested in how genomes rearrange to evolve new functions. The idea of this research project is based on a National Science Foundation-supported previous study Dr. Ray completed in his lab on a model organism—baker’s yeast—that showed there exists a previously unappreciated degree of robustness in the genome to deleterious onslaughts.

The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, through the Lung Cancer Research Program under Award No. W81XWH-16-1-0170. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense. In the conduct of research involving hazardous organisms or toxins, the investigator adheres to the CDC-NIH Guide for Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/06/prweb13497483.htm.


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