Research Summary: Identification of biomarkers for the detection of SCLC

Grant Recipient: Dr. Ignacio Wistuba
Title of Project: Identification of biomarkers for the detection of SCLC
Sponsoring Institution:
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

There is a lack of strategies for detection of small cell lung cancer (SCLC), a difficult-to-treat lung cancer subtype, which we believe is due to our poor understanding of the molecular development of the disease. Moreover, while screening by clinical measures reduces lung cancer mortality, the detected lung cancers are less likely to be SCLCs warranting the need for additional detection methods (e.g., biological). Our earlier work revealed cancer-associated markers and profiles in “normal” (to the “eye”) airways close to lung tumors, an effect we refer to as “molecular field cancerization,” in which there is field around the tumor that is enriched with malignant properties. We found field effects in “normal” airways that increased with time following tumor removal, were different between patients with and without lung cancer or different subtypes of the disease, and were present in other respiratory tract compartments, including the nose. Although we previously found that airways near SCLCs display excessive genetic abnormalities, the molecular field effect in SCLC and its relevance to detection of the disease is unknown. The proposed project aims to characterize, by high-throughput technologies, the molecular makeup of cells lining the nose and airways and of tumors from the SCLC patients compared to molecular profiles of samples from patients with benign disease or other lung cancer types, and then test these markers for their capacity to detect SCLC in easily accessible sites. We expect by using such unique resources and approaches to delineate novel markers for SCLC detection.