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Quick look: Initial moon shots

Conquest - Fall 2012


Related story:
MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program

Lung cancer

Immune response to a 
fibrosarcoma tumor (blue) 
in the lung
Illustration: Anna Zal and 
Tomasz Zal, Ph.D.

Co-leaders:

  • John Heymach, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology
  • Stephen Swisher, M.D., chair and professor, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery; head ad interim, Division of Surgery

Novel projects: 

  • Integrate new blood test and novel imaging methods to improve the early detection of lung cancer.
  • Complete real-time profiling of all known DNA mutations in 1,000 lung cancer patients.

Sample metrics: 

  • Improve specificity of early lung cancer detection by 20% in three years.
  • Develop personalized clinical trials tailored to all of the major molecular subtypes of lung cancer.

Melanoma

Co-leaders:

  • Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D., professor, Department of Surgical Oncology
  • Michael Davies, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology

Novel project: 

  • Building upon recent advances, comprehensively profile — both molecularly and immunologically — metastatic melanoma patients to develop and select optimized, personalized therapeutic approaches, unleashing the power of the immune system.

Blood vessels in the skin
Illustration: Anna Zal and Tomasz Zal, Ph.D.

Sample metrics: 

  • Exploit molecular insights to develop markers that will guide therapy selection for all melanoma patients. 
  • Develop personalized therapeutic combinations that will markedly increase the long-term survival rate for patients with metastatic melanoma.

 

Myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia

Co-leaders:

  • Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., professor, Department of Leukemia
  • Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., chair and professor, Department of Leukemia

Novel project: 

  • Harness the depth and breadth of targeted therapy programs across many drug classes that target cancer-signaling aberrations, activate immune system responses and enhance anticancer stem cell therapies — all in powerful combinations informed by full sequencing of every MDS and AML patient before and after start of treatment.

Sample metric: 

  • Identify the causes of resistance to treatment and translate that knowledge into significant cure rates for older patients with MDS and AML within five years.

 

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Co-leaders:

  • Michael Keating, M.B., B.S., professor, Department of Leukemia
  • William Plunkett, Ph.D., professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics

Novel project: 

  • Apply new breakthrough treatments based on specific targeted inhibitors of CLL pathways without damaging DNA or the immune system.

Sample metric: 

  • Replace standard chemotherapy regimens for all patients within one year. Longer-term metric: Double the cure rate of CLL, halve the rate of secondary cancers.

 

Prostate

Co-leaders:

  • Christopher Logothetis, M.D., chair and professor, Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology
  • Timothy Thompson, Ph.D., professor, Department of Genitourinary Oncology

Novel project: 

  • Establish metabolites and metabolic signatures associated with androgen-responsive prostate cancer and castrate-resistant prostate cancer in human tissue samples for the development of clinical prognostic, predictive and/or monitoring biomarkers.

Sample metric: 

  • Develop metabolomics-based biomarkers to monitor response to androgen-deprivation therapy and the transition to castrate-resistant prostate cancer in individual patients, optimizing the use of newly developed therapeutic agents to extend survival of patients with advanced prostate cancer.

 

Ovarian cancer cells treated with chemotherapy
Illustration: Geoffrey Grandjean

Breast and ovarian

Co-leaders:

  • Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair and professor, Department of Systems Biology
  • Mien-Chie Hung, Ph.D., chair and professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
  • Anil Sood, M.D., professor, Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and Department of Cancer Biology

Novel project: 

  • Transform and individualize therapy for the most dangerous forms of breast and ovarian cancers through discovery and bypass of tumor adaptation and resistance to treatment.

Sample metric: 

  • Develop a universal genetic/biomarker test for marker-guided therapy for triple-negative breast cancer and high-grade serous ovarian cancer patients within five years.
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