Salman R. Punekar, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine of Medical Oncology at NYU Langone Health. Specialization in early-phase clinical development and translational research.

Stephanie Williams, Lung Cancer survivor and clinical trial participant

Unlocking Treatment Pathways for Lung Cancer

Highlighting the crucial role of biomarker testing in lung cancer, take an in-depth look at the function of STK11 as a tumor suppressor gene and its impact when mutated. Learn more about the latest research on the STK11 biomarker’s influence on treatment strategies for non-small cell lung cancer from Dr. Salman Punekar. Dr. Punekar explains the function of STK11 as a tumor suppressor gene and its implications when mutated, affecting the efficacy of therapies like immunotherapy. STK11 is believed to negatively influence response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Then hear from Stephanie Williams, a lung cancer patient who underscores the life-changing impact of clinical trials, which informed her treatment and emphasized the importance of biomarker discovery. She shares why she advocates for patient education, the pursuit of clinical trials, and the need for ongoing research to improve lung cancer care.

STK11 as an Indicator of “Glitches”

Dr. Salman Punekar explains that STK11, also known as serine/threonine kinase 11 or LKB1, is a gene that produces proteins essential for normal cell function. Mutations in STK11 can lead to a loss of its tumor-suppressing abilities, impacting the effectiveness of treatments like immunotherapy.

“We’re really trying to understand, ‘Okay, patients who have STK11 mutations, what does that do to cancer? How does that affect the inner workings of the immune cells, the white blood cells, so on and so forth’ – really understanding the signaling pathways that STK11 can impact.” – Dr. Salman Punekar

STK11 is a mutation in the STK11 protein and is one biomarker that physicians look for in non-small cell lung cancer. STK11 was first discovered in 1996. Everyone has two STK11 genes (one from their mother and one from their father). If one of the genes is not working, this is known as having a faulty STK11 gene or having an STK11 mutation.

Clinical Trials and Patient Experience

To illustrate the importance of clinical trials in advancing lung cancer treatment. Dr. Punekar details the process and benefits of participating in trials, emphasizing that they provide additional options and access to cutting-edge treatments.

Stephanie Williams shares her journey with lung cancer, highlighting how the discovery of her ALK-positive biomarker informed her treatment decisions. She stresses the value of clinical trials, even for those who haven’t participated directly, as they can influence standard care practices and offer hope for better outcomes.

Advocacy and Empowerment for Lung Cancer Patients

Stephanie advocates for patient empowerment through education on biomarkers and clinical trials. They encourage patients to ask the right questions and consider all available treatment options, including trials. The knowledge about biomarkers, like STK11, can lead to more personalized and effective treatments for lung cancer patients.