"Harnessing Cancer Genome Diversity for Intervention Target Identification and Development"
Presented by Professor Dr. Michael White, UT Soutwestern Medical Center. Dr. White will discuss how his research relates to personalized medicine and the challenges involved in identifying the right treatment for an individual patient.
The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology will honor the scientific achievements of one of its founding faculty members and long-time leaders with this public lecture. In 1965, Dr. Royston Clowes joined the faculty of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, which would become UT Dallas in 1969. He was head of the Biology Division from 1968 to 1974 and from 1979 until his death in 1989. The Biology Graduate Student Organization established the Royston Clowes Memorial Lecture Series in 1990.
Diversity in the genetic lesions that drive cancer initiation and progression is extreme. This diversity exists not only among tumors from different patients, but also among cancer cells within the same patient. This nefarious complexity is, in large measure, responsible for the capacity of this disease to evade current best efforts for effective therapy. “Personalized medicine” has been proposed in response to this conundrum as a mechanism to tailor cancer treatment to a specific tumor’s genetic and epigenetic characteristics. However, selection of appropriate treatment is dramatically limited by the paucity of appropriate drugs and by the difficulty of linking treatment options to the appropriate patients. The challenge is to identify authentic intervention targets for development of an appropriately diverse cohort of therapies to contend with disease heterogeneity. We are addressing this challenge by a focused investigation of common vulnerabilities that arise as a consequence of oncogene expression and tumor evolution. This seminar will describe a cancer intervention discovery pipeline using parallel genetic and chemical perturbations within an extensive panel of cell lines representative of the molecular lesions detected in lung cancer by national and international cancer genome sequencing efforts. We have found that current best-of-care targeted therapies are discoverable within this panel together with the enrollment biomarkers required to stratify patient treatment regimens. Further, we have found that new genetic and chemical vulnerabilities can be revealed that are linked to recurrent mutations in lung cancer patients that are not currently “actionable”. We are leveraging this approach to stratify lung cancer subtypes and elaborate intervention targets that are linked to those subtypes by robust molecular discriminators.