Cancer often occurs because some pathways in our body’s cells become too active, and these pathways are the same ones normal cells use to function properly. Researchers made drugs to target these pathways and slow down cancer growth. However a major problem is that these drugs can also affect normal cells and cause harmful side effects. Our research focuses on a specific type of cancer called RAS-mutant, which represents more than a third of human tumors, including lung, colorectal, pancreatic, and skin cancers. RAS mutations cause the RAS pathway in cells to go into overdrive, and that leads to uncontrolled cell growth, causing cancer. Scientists have developed drugs to target the RAS pathway, like RAF and MEK inhibitors. However, these drugs have limitations because they can cause toxic effects in normal cells. The goal of our research is to find better ways to treat RAS-mutant cancers. We aim to understand why the drugs cause toxicities in normal cells by studying samples from patients and run experiments in the lab. We also found certain combinations of drugs that work better in cancer cells compared to normal cells. We will test these combinations in the lab and on animals to determine if they can effectively treat cancer without causing too many side effects. The ultimate goal of this research is to gather strong evidence to support quick clinical testing of these treatments in patients with RAS-mutant tumors, so we can develop better and safer treatments for people with these cancers.
Location: The Tisch Cancer Institute/Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - New York
Proposal: Rational combination strategies to overcome therapeutic resistance to RAS pathway inhibitors