The Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute’s (ALCMI) CASTLE study provides a unique foundational resource enabling scientists to ask and answer critical questions around the biology of lung cancer, and has directly facilitated a number of innovative research efforts. The CASTLE specimens and data are being used to the benefit of patients while advancing lung cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, with two current examples highlighted below.
The CASTLE study, launched in 2010, aims to 1) collect matched, serial tumor and blood samples and clinical data from advanced stage lung cancer patients, to build a lung cancer bio- and data-repository, and 2) provide molecular (genetic) testing for enrolled patients to ensure more informed patient and physician decision-making and to help establish a lung cancer “standard of care.”
Biomarkers for Small Cell Lung Cancer
Investigator: Ite Laird-Offringa, PhD (U. of Southern California)
While about two thirds of SCLC patients respond well to standard chemotherapy, but for far too many patients the disease returns and progresses. Response to treatment can be followed by CT imaging but it exposes patients to a lot of radiation. The ALCMI investigators are developing blood-based biomarkers to monitor patients’ disease- treatment response and emergence of resistance. Access to serial SCLC specimens is a significant challenge for researchers, and Dr. Laird-Offringa and team will use the CASTLE SCLC patient blood samples and data to measure biomarkers at diagnosis as well as after treatment to identify those that can most reliably report disease progression without the need for invasive procedures or exposure to radiation.
Targeting YAP Signaling to Enhance Survival Across Molecular Subtypes of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
Investigators: Jonathan Riess, MD (UC Davis), Trever Bivona, MD, PhD (UCSF), and Ryan Corcoran, MD, PhD (Massachusetts General Hospital)
In support of the inaugural ALCF/Van Auken Family Foundation-funded Young Innovator Team Award (YITA 1), the investigators aim to capitalize on their exciting recent discovery of the Hippo-YAP signaling pathway as a critical driver and therapeutic target in lung cancer. The investigators will study NSCLC patient specimens in ALCMI’s CASTLE study to determine if altered gene levels are correlated with response to targeted therapies. Further, they will investigate the role of YAP1/TAZ genes in driving cancer initiation and treatment resistance. The goal eventually is to utilize these discoveries funded by ALCF and ALCMI, to design a clinical trial around targeting the YAP/TAZ pathway in lung cancer.