American Lung Association, Gateway for Cancer Research Announce Funding of Innovative Lung Cancer Research

Organizations fund Conquer Cancer’s Young Investigator Award, advances testing of experimental drug for small cell lung cancer

As part of a shared commitment to advance early phase lung cancer clinical trials, Gateway for Cancer Research and the American Lung Association Research Institute continue to expand their co-funding alliance, investing in promising research led by brilliant physicians. Most recently, the organizations together provided $50,000 in grant funding for a trial through the Young Investigator Award (YIA). A program of Conquer Cancer, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Foundation, the YIA provides research funding to physicians who are transitioning from fellowship programs to faculty positions at their respective institutions. Through the YIA, Gateway and the American Lung Association’s Accelerator Program funded an early phase lung cancer trial led by Jacob Zaemes, MD, PhD. 

A second-year fellow at Georgetown University Medical Center, Dr. Zaemes is one of 91 investigators to have received a YIA at the June 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting. Thanks to additional support from Gateway and the American Lung Association, his trial will investigate the safety and efficacy of an experimental drug for patients with relapsed and refractory extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC), an aggressive type of lung cancer that typically grows and spreads quickly despite treatment. 

The experimental drug, MCG018, has two main components: an antibody which helps the drug seek out and attach specifically to cancer cells, and an active chemotherapy agent which kills the cancer cells. This drug aims to provide a more focused treatment that affects only cancer cells, unlike traditional chemotherapy which also affects non-tumor cells. The focus of the study will be to determine if the drug can shrink patients’ cancers. Enrollment for the Phase II, three-year study will include up to 17 participants with patients beginning trial treatment in 2024. 

The YIA marks the second clinical trial co-funding endeavor from Gateway and the American Lung Association. The first launched in 2022 and is led by Jeffrey Ward, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at Washington University School of Medicine. That five-year study centered on integrating a personalized vaccine in combination with an immunotherapy drug into first-line therapy for SCLC.

The partnership capitalizes on Gateway’s leadership in exclusively funding Phase I and II clinical trials for all types of cancer. Recognizing the invaluable role these early research efforts play in expanding knowledge on how to safely and effectively treat cancer, the American Lung Association joined forces with Gateway to increase early phase research for lung cancer, the second most common cancer among men and women worldwide. 

“Gateway’s vision to shape a world in which a cancer diagnosis is no longer feared requires identifying the most promising cancer treatment ideas from passionate physicians and providing the funding to bring those ideas to life,” said Delora Senft, Gateway’s chief operating officer. “The American Lung Association shares our commitment, and we are honored to partner with them to support Dr. Zaemes.”

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., but fortunately, we have seen incredible progress in research into new and better treatments for this disease. SCLC is especially challenging to treat, so we are excited about Dr. Zaemes’ research,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association. “It is critical for the research community to work together to end lung cancer, so we are thankful to advance our work with Gateway for Cancer Research.”

This partnership is an initiative of the Accelerator Program, as part of the American Lung Association Research Institute, which launched last year to address the urgent and critical lung health challenges in our country. The Accelerator Program collaborates with government, non-profits and private industry to dramatically accelerate existing research to revolutionize lung health discovery and innovation. 

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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