Research Summary: In-vivo and in-vitro diagnostics to improve lung cancer care

Grant Recipient: Dr. Viswam Nair
Title of Project: In-vivo and in-vitro diagnostics to improve lung cancer care
Sponsoring Institution: Stanford University

My goal is to improve medical care for patients with a lung nodule discovered on imaging scans by fusing currently available molecular imaging techniques with circulating biomarkers that can be detected in blood during routine lab testing. Thousands of solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs) are discovered annually in patients, many during imaging for other reasons, and many are potentially lethal. Physicians remain uneasy about this development since these nodules could be cancerous and aggressive approaches that lead to unnecessary testing, including invasive biopsies and unnecessary surgery, are common. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging assesses the metabolism of lung nodules, increases the accuracy of a physician’s diagnosis and treatment strategy for the lung nodule patient and is widely used―but even PET remains imprecise. We therefore plan on investigating whether molecular biomarkers in blood can increase the utility of PET imaging in clinical practice. The concept here is “one-stop shopping,” where a patient can obtain the standard of care in molecular imaging (PET) with a routine blood test during an appointment that will increase the accuracy of a clinician’s diagnosis and facilitate the appropriate decision-making process for the patient. This could have a cost-effective impact on medical care for patients with a concerning lung nodule by not only increasing diagnostic accuracy but also by augmenting an outdated staging system used to classify lung cancer prognosis.