Hormel Institute scientists publish research on lung cancer in renowned cancer biology journal

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and cutting-edge research into the deadly disease is underway at The Hormel Institute. The research article titled “DARPP-32 promotes ERBB3-mediated resistance to molecular targeted therapy in EGFR-mutated lung adenocarcinoma” was recently published in the renowned cancer biology journal Oncogene by members of the lab led by Luke Hoeppner, PhD, Assistant Professor and leader of the Cancer Biology research section at The Hormel Institute.

Luke Hoeppner

Cancer occurs when mutations arise in specific cancer-causing genes. One of these genes is called EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor). When people get diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer, they typically undergo genetic testing to determine whether they have a common cancer-causing mutation in the EGFR gene. If someone has EGFR-mutation positive lung cancer, they are treated with a drug that targets the mutation in EGFR and effectively kills the cancer cells. This treatment usually works well for one to two years, but eventually lung cancer progression occurs because the tumor cells acquire the ability to resist the treatment. The drug becomes less effective at killing cancer cells because the cancer cells have gained the ability to escape tumor cell death induced by the treatment.

The research was led by Sk. Kayum Alam, PhD, a postdoctoral trainee in Dr. Hoeppner’s research group.

Sk. Kayum Alam

In addition to Dr. Alam, Dr. Hoeppner’s team included postdoctoral fellow Li Wang, PhD, former visiting scholar Zhu Zhu, and former Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) intern Christina Hernandez. Oncologists Mark Klein, MD, of the Minneapolis Veteran Affairs Healthcare System and University of Minnesota and Yongchang Zhang, MD, of The Hunan Cancer Hospital in Changsha, China also made key contributions to this research.

This study was primarily supported by generous funds from The Elsa U. Pardee Foundation. Dr. Hoeppner also received seed funding from an Institutional Research Grant from the American Cancer Society and support from The Hormel Foundation to accomplish this work. Dr. Hoeppner recently received a $789,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to research small cell lung cancer, another particularly deadly type of lung cancer.