Henning Willers, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Funded in partnership with the American Lung Association of the Northeast and the American Thoracic Society
Attacking Lung Cancer Before It Develops Drug Resistance
Targeted drugs like erlotinib commonly shrink lung cancers that depend on mutated EGFR (EGFRmut). However, invariably cancer cells survive, become drug resistant and cause tumor regrowth. In this study, we propose attacking the tumor before drug resistance and recurrence occur. We will take advantage of a unique clinical trial that allows us to biopsy EGFRmut tumors before drug resistance develops. Coupled with laboratory studies we will find out how tumor cells manage to survive the targeted therapy and how we can disrupt this ability. Our research may lead to a dramatic change in how we treat EGFRmut cancers, thereby prolonging lives and perhaps even achieving cures in some patients.