Mutations in the KRAS gene are found in 20 to 25% of lung cancers. These cancers do not respond well to standard lung cancer treatments and are notoriously difficult to treat. Scientists are working to develop new drugs that specifically target biological pathways disrupted by the mutant KRAS gene.
The goal of the SU2C–ACS Lung Cancer Dream Team has been to develop and bring together these two highly promising therapeutic approaches of targeted therapy and immunotherapy: combining types of therapies and also working to predict which patients will benefit from the therapy.
The team is currently conducting a myriad of clinical trials, including trials combining targeted therapies called MEK inhibitors with checkpoint inhibitors. MEK inhibitors modulate overactive cellular signaling pathways while checkpoint inhibitors block the function of the PD-1 receptor, a protein on cell surfaces that inhibits normal immune response. To maximize the benefit of immunotherapy, the team is also analyzing samples from patients who have been treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. The team seeks to identify ways to predict which patients are more likely to respond to immunotherapy.