Alan P. Fields, Ph.D.

American Lung Association/LUNGevity Foundation Lung Cancer Discovery Award 2006-2008

Dr. Fields has discovered that a drug currently being used to treat rheumatoid arthritis shows promise in treating some types of lung cancer. The drug, called aurothiomalate (ATM), is a targeted therapy, meaning it doesn’t kill both cancer and normal cells, the way many chemotherapy drugs do, which can lead to severe side effects. Rather, ATM targets a gene called protein kinase Ciota (PKCi) that is essential for the development of lung cancer. Blocking PKCi activity blocks lung cancer cell growth, suggesting that a drug that blocks PKCi activity might also be an effective treatment against lung cancer.

With the Lung Cancer Discovery Award, Dr. Fields found that the majority of lung cancer cells are sensitive to ATM, and that those lung cancer cells that have very high levels of PKCi are the most sensitive to ATM. These results suggest that lung cancer patients whose tumors have high PKCi levels are likely to respond to ATM therapy. Building on the data that Dr. Fields gathered through his American Lung Association grant, he and his colleagues have conducted a Phase I clinical trial of ATM in lung cancer patients, to assess the safety and optimal dosing of the drug for lung cancer treatment. His results show that ATM is well-tolerated. He has now started several phaseI/II trials to assess the effectiveness of the drug in combination with another targeted agent as a treatment for lung cancer. Clinical trials are also ongoing to explore the potential of ATM in the treatment.