SDSC/UCSD Study Uncovers Mechanisms of Cancer-Causing Mutations

Computer modeling leads to more precise targeting of therapies —

Researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, have described for the first time the molecular mechanism of cancer development caused by well-known “resistance” mutations in the gene called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

While these mutations were known for quite a long time, the question as to why they cause cancer or make some drugs ineffective was still not answered.

The study, called “Molecular Determinants of Drug-Specific Sensitivity for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Exon 19 and 20 Mutants in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer,” and published online in the journal Oncotarget, demonstrates how computer modeling of EGFR mutations found in lung cancer can elucidate their molecular mechanism of action and consequently optimize the selection of therapeutic agents to treat patients. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Razelle Kurzrock

Dr. Razelle Kurzrock

The senior investigator in the study was Razelle Kurzrock, MD. Dr. Kurzrock is Chief of the Division of Hematology & Oncology; Murray Professor of Medicine; Senior Deputy Director, Clinical Science and
Director, Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy and Clinical Trials Office at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Lyudmila A. Bazhenova, MD, associate professor of medicine and leader of the Lung Cancer Unit Team at the Moores Cancer Center, was also an investigator in the study.

Read the study report (UC San Diego only)

“Wildly Heterogeneous Genes”

New approach subtypes cancers by shared genetic effects; a step toward personalized medicine

Cancer tumors almost never share the exact same genetic mutations, a fact that has confounded scientific efforts to better categorize cancer types and develop more targeted, effective treatments.

In a paper published in the September 15 advanced online edition of Nature Methods, researchers at the University of California, San Diego propose a new approach called network-based stratification (NBS), which identifies cancer subtypes not by the singular mutations of individual patients, but by how those mutations affect shared genetic networks or systems. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Trey Ideker, PhDLead investigator in the study is Trey Ideker, PhD, professor of medicine and bioengineering and chief of the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Medicine.

Postdoctoral researcher Hannah K. Carter and hematology/oncology fellow John P. Shen are the other Department of Medicine coauthors.

Citation for the study report:  Matan Hofree, John P Shen, Hannah Carter, Andrew Gross, Trey Ideker. Network-based stratification of tumor mutations. Nature Methods (2013) doi:10.1038/nmeth.2651. |  Full text (UCSD only)

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Lung Cancer Vaccine Trial Begins at Cancer Center

The Moores UCSD Cancer Center has started enrolling eligible patients in a trial of a new vaccine for lung cancer.

Called Lucanix™, the vaccine is designed to help a patient’s immune system fight the tumor. It was developed by a local biotechnology company.

The chief investigator in the study is Lyudmila Bazhenova, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Bazhenova directs the Lung Cancer Unit at the Cancer Center.

Read the full story
from UC San Diego
Health Sciences Communications

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the Lucanix™ trial

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Dr. Mark Fuster Is Awarded “Joan’s Legacy” Grant for His Lung Cancer Research

Mark Fuster, M.D., Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, has received a $100,000 grant for his study of bronchioalveolar carcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer, and the mechanisms of lung cancer metastasis.

The grant was awarded by the private foundation “Joan’s Legacy”: The Joan Scarangello Foundation to Conquer Lung Cancer.

Read the abstract from Dr. Fuster’s grant

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