Simon Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Simon Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Institution: Columbia University in the City of New York

Project: Will Blocking Bmi1 Protein Improve Lung Cancer Immunotherapy?

Grant(s): Lung Cancer Discovery Award

A type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy, which turns the immune system against the cancer when given after chemotherapy and radiation, has been found promising for lung cancers. However, more than half of locally advanced lung cancer patients still don't benefit from these combined therapies, and it is not clear why. To determine which cells are normal and which are foreign, the immune system uses checkpoints, molecules on certain immune cells that need to be activated (or inactivated) to start an immune response. Lung cancers become resistant to radiation therapy by activating a protein called Bmi1, which also turns on the checkpoints that block the immunotherapy response. We will determine if blocking Bmi1, which is turned on after radiation treatment, will provide more effective lung cancer therapy when combined with immunotherapy.

Update:

Our goal to improve the efficacy of combining immunotherapy after standard of care chemoradiation therapy for non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC ) through combined Bmi1 inhibition and PD-1 checkpoint blockade is progressing. Some lung cancer immunotherapy targets PD-1 and PD-L1, proteins that are found on some tumor cells and immune cells. Blocking these proteins can help boost the immune response against cancer cells. In our results, we were able to change the expression of PD-L1, which will allow us to proceed to the next phase.

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