The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently announced the recipients of grants aimed to support the work of research teams from multiple Texas institutions. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will receive two grants totaling $10.6 million for the development of two collaborative research studies targeting lung cancer therapy.
Both grants originate from MD Anderson’s Lung Cancer Moon Shot, part of the institution’s Moon Shots Program, which was developed to overcome funding hurdles in the research phase of new therapies and facilitate the transition between scientific discovery and life-saving advances, from cancer prevention prognosis to early diagnostics techniques and the development of new therapies.
“Our Moon Shots Program is designed to swiftly advance life-saving innovations, and CPRIT funding helps us address crucial issues in reducing mortality from the most lethal of cancers,” said MD Anderson President Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., in a press release. “We are proud our experts received the only multi-investigator research projects awarded by CPRIT during this review term. This is a testament to the quality of our science as well as our collaborative team culture.”
One of the grants, for $6 million, will finance a project focused on developing new treatments for lung cancers driven by KRAS gene mutations, which represent 20 to 30 percent of the lung adenocarcinoma cases, a type of non-small cell lung cancer. These KRAS mutations, considered one of the most common oncogene mutations in lung cancer, are famously difficult to treat and there are currently no drugs that inhibit the mutated protein directly. The project is led by principal investigator Jonathan Kurie, M.D., professor of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology.
The second grant, worth $4.6 million, was awarded to a study that will focus on the pathogenesis and early progression of lung cancer, with special interest in the genomic alterations found in lung tumors.
In addition to the lung cancer projects, MD Anderson also received a $200,000 high-impact/high-risk grant for research targeting a specific type of mutation found in leukemias.
CPRIT, which was launched in 2009 after Texas voters approved a bond issue in 2007 committing $3 billion to the battle against cancer, has so far awarded 1,033 grants totaling more than $1.57 billion.