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Maria Cortez, Ph.D.

Research Awards Nationwide Recipient (2017-2018)

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University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Overcoming Lung Cancer Immunotherapy Resistance
Biomedical Research Grant
Funded by LUNG FORCE

New treatments that harness the immune system to fight lung cancer (called immunotherapy) have shown exciting results. However, most patients do not respond to this therapy, and even those who do often develop disease progression. To find out why this occurs, our lab developed a mouse model of lung cancer resistant immunotherapy. We will build on our preliminary findings on changes in the metabolism of lipids (fats) in resistant tumors, and explore how these changes influence the ability of tumor cells to evade the immune system. We will then identify new targets that can be used to overcome immunotherapy resistance or as biomarkers that can help identify, before treatment, which patients will respond to these drugs.

Update: We identified inflammatory pathways that promote resistance to immunotherapy for lung cancer. We previously found that specific inflammatory pathways and small RNAs, known as microRNAs, are related to response to lung cancer immunotherapy. This year, we explored how these molecules influence the ability of tumor cells to evade the immune system. Our study has the potential to reveal new lipid-related targets for drug development or new treatments that combine inhibitors of these targets with immunotherapy for lung cancer.

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