One of the most prevalent and deadly challenges in cancer treatment is drug resistance – therapies may work for a while but often tumors become resistant and return. Dr. Luke Hoeppner, leader of the Cancer Biology research section at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, recently received $164,367 from
the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation to fund research, “Combating lung cancer resistance to EGFR targeted therapy”.
Dr. Hoeppner joined The Hormel Institute in 2015 and previously was a researcher at Mayo Clinic.
Individuals who are unfortunately diagnosed with advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer are routinely tested for
several common lung cancer-causing mutations. One such mutation occurs in a protein called “epidermal growth factor
receptor” or EGFR. Advanced stage lung cancer patients with EGFR mutations are typically treated with a specific EGFR
inhibitor drug, which fortunately often halts cancer growth and promotes tumor remission. However, Dr. Hoeppner says lung cancer frequently acquires resistance to these EGFR inhibitor drugs and “sadly cancer returns – usually within a year or so.”
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and
women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Dr. Hoeppner and his research team that includes senior postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Sk. Kayum Alam, aim to discover how lung cancer cells escape the anti-cancer effects of EGFR inhibitors and become resistant to this molecular targeted therapy.