Lida Hariri, MD
Research Awards Nationwide Recipient (2015-2016)
Massachusetts General Hospital
Funded by the American Lung Association of the Northeast
Does Tumor Environment Promote Drug Resistance in Lung Cancer Cells?
Despite advances in personalized lung cancer therapy, nearly all patients develop resistance to therapy within 6-12 months and their prognosis remains poor. We will study how non-tumor cells in the environment can help tumor cells survive during drug therapy. We will use a combination of cell culture studies and cutting-edge optical imaging to carefully track tumor cells, their environment, and their response to therapy in lung cancer mouse models. Our results will help us determine if the tumor environment promotes drug resistance in lung cancer cells and how this occurs. Our findings could uncover methods to detect and inhibit drug resistance, which would improve response to therapy and increase survival in patients with lung cancer.
Update: Some lung cancers have mutations in a gene called EGFR, resulting in uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells. We have shown that secreted factors from cells called fibroblasts enable EGFR mutant lung cancer cells to survive during targeted therapy with a treatment called gefitinib. We have also found other factors that protect EGFR mutant lung cancer cells from gefitinib therapy. We will continue to investigate the role of fibroblasts in drug resistance using both in vitro techniques and mouse models of EGFR mutant lung cancer.