MD Anderson receives $10.6 million from CPRIT for lung cancer research

MD Anderson receives $10.6 million from CPRIT for lung cancer research

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will receive $10.6 million in funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for two collaborative studies targeting crucial issues in lung cancer.

The two multi-investigator research awards, designed to support teams of researchers from multiple Texas institutions, were announced Wednesday after the CPRIT Oversight Committee met to approve new projects.

Both grants originate from MD Anderson’s Lung Cancer Moon Shot, part of its Moon Shots Program to reduce cancer deaths by accelerating the development of new treatments, prevention programs and early detection efforts based on scientific discoveries.

One $6 million grant focuses on defining and defeating lung cancers driven by KRAS gene mutations, which account for about 25 percent of non-small cell lung cancers.  KRAS mutations cannot be directly treated at present, while drugs have been found to hit other, less common, mutations. Jonathan Kurie, M.D., professor of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology is principal investigator of the project.

A $4.6 million grant will study the pathogenesis and early progression of lung cancer, addressing the diversity of genomic alterations in lung tumors. The project leader is Ignacio Wistuba, M.D., chair of Translational Molecular Pathology.

“Our Moon Shots Program is designed to swiftly advance life-saving innovations, and CPRIT funding helps us address crucial issues in reducing mortality from the most lethal of cancers,” said Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “We are proud our experts received the only multi-investigator research projects awarded by CPRIT during this review term. This is a testament to the quality of our science as well as our collaborative team culture.”

MD Anderson also received a high-impact/high-risk grant of $200,000 to target a specific type of mutation found in leukemias.

For CPRIT, the grants announced Wednesday are a milestone, reaching the halfway point for its funding authority. To date, the institute has awarded 1,033 grants totaling more than $1.57 billion. The agency was launched in 2009 after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 bond issue committing $3 billion to the fight to end cancer.