Grants - Designated Grants - California - 2020

Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, FACP

Funded by Gastric Cancer Foundation

Gastric cancer is the fifth most frequently diagnosed malignancy in men and women, with nearly 800,000 deaths per year, making it the third leading cause of cancer related death worldwide. Therefore, it is critical to find more effective therapeutic approaches for this disease. Our group has investigated the molecular make up of gastric cancer using large patient cohorts to better understand the differences of molecular markers in gastric cancer and to identify new targets for drug development. Our research was able to find one of the main regulator of tumor growth and spread. This genetic alteration is called lysine methyltransferase 2 (KMT2) which is frequently altered in gastric cancer and a key driver of tumor growth. When normal tissues loses this gene, this tissue can became cancerous by promoting the development of tumor cells. Our group (Wang J, et al., JCO2020) was one of the first working on this particular gene and has recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of 1,245 patients with advanced gastric cancer, whose tumors were analyzed using with comprehensive and cutting edge molecular testing technologiesWe found that patients with the KMT2 mutation have very unique tumor characteristics such as changes in the DNA repair pathways which makes them very vulnerable to specific chemotherapeutic drugs but also novel targeted therapies. Our project focuses on studying what the best treatment therapies for this uniquely subgroup of gastric cancer patient will be and explore existing and novel agents to improve outcome in patients with gastric cancer. The goal is that our project will lead to more effective and less toxic treatment options for patients with gastric cancer.