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Developing a new approach to targeting lung cancers

  • Researcher: Dr Silvestre Vicent
  • Institution: FFPIMA, Pamplona, Spain
  • Award Amount: £139,060 from January 2016 for 3 years
  • Cancer Type: Lung Cancer
Developing a new approach to targeting lung cancers
Dr Silvestre Vicent is working hard to develop a new approach to targeting lung cancers with mutations in a gene called KRAS.

Worldwide, nearly 1.83 million new cases of lung cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012 and it is the leading cause of death from cancer in Europe. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type and represents about 80% of total lung cancers. In these NSCLC tumours, KRAS is the most commonly mutated cancer-causing gene (oncogene), found in over 20% of patients."

Dr Vicent told us “Since KRAS mutations are directly responsible for NSCLC, KRAS represents an ideal target to try and turn off in order to prevent NSCLC development. Yet, efforts to develop therapeutic inhibitors against KRAS have failed for over 20 years. Thus, it is critical to identify targets of oncogenic KRAS that could unveil new therapeutic candidates.

A previous search for molecules downstream of activated KRAS led to the identification of a series of up-regulated ‘microRNAs’. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate expression of key genes in normal and cancerous cells. We hypothesize that these microRNAs play a key role in cells harboring KRAS mutations.”

He added “The goal of this work is to carry out proof-of-concept testing on the role of the miRNAs afected by activated KRAS. We expect to identify miRNA target genes involved in cancer development driven by KRAS. Eventually we hope to apply these findings to develop new therapeutic strategies targeting KRAS in NSCLC patients.”

He concluded "This grant from Worldwide Cancer Research is of paramount importance to consolidate our research group and increase its visibility to the scientific community.”

The project is an excellent opportunity to test whether KRAS-regulated miRNAs represent functionally relevant targets for which novel therapeutic strategies could be eventually developed".

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