Developing diagnostic tools to “intercept” lung cancer at its earliest stage is the goal of a research team led by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), along with colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Using innovative approaches such as nasal swabs, blood tests and radiological imaging, scientists look to confirm whether lung abnormalities found on chest imaging are benign lung disease.
In order to protect against recurrence of disease that has already been successfully treated, the researchers are also exploring how new blood tests can help identify patients at the earliest stages of recurrence, thus enabling timely and effective intervention with therapies such as those that boost the immune system.
Avrum Spira, MD, professor of medicine, pathology and bioinformatics at BUSM and director of the Boston University-Boston Medical Center (BU-BMC) Cancer Center, leads the team, and Steven Dubinett, MD, associate vice chancellor for research at UCLA and director of the lung cancer research program at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, is the co-leader.”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 noninvasive way of measuring a person’s risk of having lung cancer,” explained Spira.
“One of the reasons lung cancer is so deadly is because diagnosis of the disease occurs in later stages, when it is far harder to treat. By intercepting the disease at its very earliest stages, we can have a profound impact on the evaluation and prevention of lung cancer, and potentially improve the lives of many people at high risk for the disease,” Dubinett said.
Other participants in the project are: 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; Kim Norris, Founder, Lung Cancer Foundation of America; Marcia Horn; President and CEO, International Cancer Advisory Network (ICAN).