Major research programs in the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery department include identification of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes important in lung cancer development and progression, development of techniques to alter oncogene and tumor suppressor gene expression, investigation of genetic events in premalignant lesions, development of efficient viral and nonviral vectors for gene delivery to cancer cells, and application of these systems in human gene therapy.
Jack A. Roth, professor and director of the W.M. Keck Center for Innovative Cancer Therapies at MD Anderson, was among the first to identify and characterize a number of tumor suppressor genes for lung cancer and discover a way to deliver them to cancer cells using nanoparticles.
Gene-based prevention and treatment strategies:
- Identification of Oncogenes and Tumor Suppressor Genes
- Techniques to Alter Oncogene and Tumor Suppressor Gene Expression
- Investigation of Genetic Events in Premalignant Lesions
- Development of Efficient Viral and Nonviral Vectors for Gene Delivery to Cancer Cells
The goal of our research is to develop drugs that can be more effective at killing cancer cells and less toxic for patients.
Jack A. Roth, M.D.
Thoracic surgeon and researcher
Clinical trials have focused on the development of combined-modality treatment approaches involving novel chemotherapy agents, radiotherapy techniques and surgical approaches. These protocols represent a major collaborative effort with the departments of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, Gastrointestinal Oncology and Digestive Diseases and Radiation Oncology. Current protocols for lung cancer include both preoperative and postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy with novel agents.
Protocols combining chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are being evaluated for esophageal cancer. A novel strategy of pulmonary perfusion with doxorubicin for sarcomatous lung metastases is being evaluated. A major collaboration with the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology is directed toward chemoprevention of second primary cancers in patients with early-stage lung cancer.
The Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery department has completed clinical trials to evaluate replacement of the p53 tumor suppressor gene by delivering a functional p53 tumor suppressor via retroviral and adenoviral vectors in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. New trials combining p53 gene replacement are planned in combination with radiotherapy and chemotherapy in collaboration with the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology.
Lung Cancer SPORE
The department is a recipient of a National Cancer Institute Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Lung Cancer grant jointly with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. This program has major projects focused on molecular early detection, susceptibility genes and chemoprevention of lung cancer.