Lung Cancer Interception Team

Research Collaboration to Improve Diagnostics for Earlier Detection

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and someone is diagnosed every two minutes. To address this, the American Lung Association has collaborated with LUNGevity Foundation to form the Lung Cancer Interception Team to continue their novel approach to lung cancer prevention: intercept pre-cancerous cells before they become malignant.  

Drs. Avrum Spira and Steven Dubinett have pulled together a team of top-notch medical researchers for their LUNGevity-American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Team. 

Dr. Steven Dubinett and Dr. Avrum Spira have pulled together a team of top-notch medical researchers for their Stand Up To Cancer-LUNGevity-American Lung Association Dream Team.

The Lung Cancer Interception Team  

This project began in 2017, when the American Lung Association joined forces with LUNGevity and Stand Up To Cancer to fund new lung cancer research awards that would bring together leading researchers from across disciplines, institutions, and countries to collaborate on ways to move research from bench to bedside more quickly to benefit patients sooner.  

The first grant established a lung pre-cancer genome atlas, which determined the genetic makeup of pre-cancerous cells in the lung, and lead to dozens of impactful publications advancing the field.  

Since then, LUNGevity and the American Lung Association have renewed their partnership and committed an additional $3 million investment through 2026.  

Researchers are now using this continued support to establish a timeline of when pre-cancerous cells evolve into malignant cancer, using robot-assisted bronchoscopy to collect longitudinal samples from patients suspected to have lung cancer, and then determine the factors that drive that evolution.  


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Why Interception?

Intercepting cancer means early detection, which means early treatment. That is the key to saving lives. Cancer interception is a promising new approach to cancer detection and treatment. Instead of detecting cancer after it has grown or spread, this research aims to detect and treat tumors at early, less dangerous stages, before they become cancerous. It is easier to treat lung cancer in its early stages before it has spread. 

Members of the Lung Interception Dream Team

Team Goals

The Lung Cancer Interception Team's goal is to understand how early lung cancer develops and test methods to block this development. To do this, they will study lung tissue to determine how to identify abnormal lung growths that require aggressive treatment along with treatments to block development of these growths into invasive lung cancers.  

Insights gained from this research enable the medical, research, and patient communities to make major strides to thwart lung cancer before it occurs, and lead to personalized treatments for lung cancer patients. 

The team will use diagnostic tools, like nasal swabs, blood tests and radiological imaging, to confirm whether lung abnormalities found on chest imaging are benign lung disease or lung cancer. This will help ensure that patients without lung cancer can avoid unnecessary testing and procedures.  

Finally, they will develop tests to determine which patients are most likely benefit from various treatment strategies, to aid in the interception of these early lung cancers. 

Dr. Avrum Spira

Leader: Avrum Spira, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Bioinformatics, Director of Cancer Center at Boston University-Boston Medical Center, and Global Head of Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson

Dr. Steven Dubinett

Co-leader: Steven Dubinett, M.D.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at University of California-Los Angeles and Director of Lung Cancer Research Program at Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Lung Cancer Interception Team Updates

To see a list of recent studies by the Lung Cancer Interception Team, visit Research News. 

Most recently, groundbreaking research from the Lung Cancer Interception Team discovered a key player in lung cancer treatment resistance. An enzyme called APOBEC3B influences resistance to EGFR-targeted therapy in Lung Cancer, which could enhance the effectiveness of treatments (Nature Genetics, December 2023)  

In addition, the Interception Team has reported the following recent milestones:  

  • A new computational method which allows scientists to study how cancer cells change their DNA, a new tool which will help solve a puzzle of how cancer grows and changes, leading to improved treatments (PLOS Computational Biology, October 2023).  
  • A review summarizing how cancer cells evade detection and destruction by immune systems, providing a checkpoint for the research community to quickly learn the latest in treatment-resistant lung cancer (Immunity, October 2023) 
  • Identified important gene regulation and function in early stages of lung cancer development, which could help identify and target pre-cancerous cells for treatment (J. Exp. Clin. Cancer Res., May 2023). 
  • Established the timing and patterns of metastasis in patient with non-small cell lung cancer, which will help guide when and where to sample tissues, improve therapies, and patient outcomes (Nature, April 2023).  

Learn More About the Lung Cancer Interception Team

EACH Breath Blog Interview with Dr. Dubinett

Dr. Dubinett talks about the progress made what it means for the future of lung cancer.
Read blog

Lungcast Episode Featuring Drs. Spira and Dubinett

Hear how experts focused on discovering better ways to detect lung cancer before it takes hold.
Listen to Podcast

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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