Schmidt Legacy Foundation Current Research Funding 2018

Genomics of Young Lung Cancer (USC, Ohio State and Dana Farber Cancer Institute)

This is an international study that is making major discoveries and affecting how young people (under age 40) are treated. The research has made a groundbreaking discovery that approximately 77% of young lung cancer patients have a “targetable mutation” vs 35% for the general lung cancer population and this means that these young lung cancer patients will be getting precise treatment that has a high success rate, often via simple pills, versus the more common shotgun approach chemotherapies that have less efficacy and often come with terrible side effects

Identification of Predictive Markers of Toxicity to Immunotherapy (University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

Immunotherapy is one of the fastest growing segments in lung cancer research.  There are many breakthroughs utilizing immunotherapy but as with most research, sometimes the treatments cause side-effects. This research will tell us which lung cancer patients will likely develop side-effects from immunotherapy so that these unintended outcomes can be effectively managed. This is a important issue as side-effects from immunotherapy are unique from other treatments and therefore require different management. One of the goals of this research is help ensure that new immunotherapy treatments that are being discovered become more mainstream and more widely used in treating lung cancer patients and that side-effects of such treatment don’t diminish use of immunotherapy.

Dynamics of Neoantigen Landscape During Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer (Johns Hopkins University)

This research project will help us understand how lung cancer cells become resistant to immunotherapy. We are increasingly seeing that some patients have a recurrence after successful immunotherapy and mechanisms of resistance are an area that is ripe for further exploration. One of the unique things about this research is that it is using liquid biopsies (via simple blood draws) to provide the DNA cell info vs. using tissue cells. This allows much quicker and less invasive gathering of cellular info to identify mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy. Given the number of new lung cancer treatments that utilize immunotherapy, we are hopeful that discoveries made by this research will allow scientists to understand what might cause tumor cells to resist immunotherapy treatment.