Cancer as a genetic disease is by now well recognized. Genomic analysis of cancer cells, therefore, has greatly enhanced our ability to identify genetic alterations associated with various cancer types, including both lympho-hematopoietic as well as solid tumors. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), based on the specific diagnostic genetic abnormality has served as a prototype disease to clearly demonstrate the significance of the genomic analysis of cancer in identifying targeted therapy. Such a success has provided extra ordinary opportunities to investigate the role of genetic abnormalities and the pathways amenable to targeted therapy, not only in blood cancers but solid tumors such as Lung, Brain, Colon, Renal, Breast cancers as well as other epithelial and mesenchymal tumors. The main focus of this presentation is to illustrate the role of genomic analysis in targeting lung cancer, based on abnormalities or the pathways deregulated in tumor cells from individual patients. Lung cancer is one of the most common epithelial cancers associated with chronic inflammation due to cigarette smoking and other environmental carcinogens, and includes four distinct histologic type; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and squamous cell lung cancer. According to current estimates, 1.3 million cases of lung cancer are expected to be diagnosed worldwide annually, resulting in one million deaths. Since the discovery that patient’s tumors with specific mutations in the EGFR may be sensitive to targeted therapeutic approach and the subsequent realization that the such mutations in the gene are not as prevalent, several cancer centers including ours initiated intense efforts to find other mutations or genomic alterations, which may serve as targets of specific therapy. Such efforts have successfully resulted in a battery of genes such as KRAS, ALK, C-MET, HER-2/neu, ROS1, etc., which have helped oncologists to triage the patients for personalized therapies. A significant proportion of patients with lung cancer, however, do not show any of the above genetic abnormalities. Approximately 90% of lung cancers exhibit RB1 mutation/deletion and or KRAS mutations, therefore, the signaling pathways, which regulate multistep tumorigenesis in lung cancer, are important for the treatment of histologic subtypes of lung cancer, which includes NSCLC & SCLC. Equally important was the findings that similar signaling pathways are also shared by other solid tumor types. We have investigated the role of these pathways to target these cancers and develop new strategies to treat lung, brain and related cancers. In addition, our translational studies in other tumor types such as NF2 related malignancies, specifically, Malignant Mesothelioma (MM), in which NF2 related pathway amenable to targeted therapies was identified. Selected examples representing experimental approaches will be discussed to illustrate the critical role of translational research in developing novel therapeutics for the successful and durable responses in some of these cancer types.
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